S1E93 - Last Born in the Wilderness on Anarchist Public Health
This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Patrick talk a lot about covid, public health, the role of anarchism in public health, and the weirdly similar origins of the names of two projects.
Patrick (he/him) can be found hosting the Last Born in the Wilderness podcast. You can find it at www.lastborninthewilderness.com or wherever you get podcasts. You an also find Patrick on Instagram @patterns.of.behavior or on Twitter @LastBornPodcast
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.
Last Born in the Wilderness on Anarchist Public Health
**Margaret ** 00:14 Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I'm your host today, Margaret Killjoy. I say it that way because there's other hosts now and I'm very excited about that. But sometimes, apparently, we have the same voice. And so people think that we are each other, but we're not. We're different people. And you can tell because my name is Margaret Killjoy and Inmn's name is not Margaret Killjoy. It is instead, Inmn. But that's not what we're talking about. What we're gonna talk about today ... Well, we're gonna talk about a lot of stuff today. I'm really excited about it. We're gonna be talking with the host of a podcast you should probably be listening to if you're not already called Last Born in the Wilderness. And it's like the [laughing] smarter thinking version of this show. And so we're gonna talk about that. And first, here's a jingle from another show on the network, which is ... the network is Channel Zero Network, which is a network of anarchists podcasts, and here's a jingle. Buh buh bah buh buh bah [singing like a simple melody]
**Margaret ** 02:09 Okay, we're back. Okay. So if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of maybe introduce this other podcast, this project that you do.
**Patrick ** 02:18 Yeah. Thanks for having me on. My name is Patrick Farnsworth. Pronouns are he/him. I'm the host of Last Born in the Wilderness. It's a podcast I've been hosting for quite a long time now and I ... I don't know how to describe it. Someone described it once as a podcast about death and dying, which sounds rather bleak. It's an interesting way to describe it. I mean, it's, uh, you know ... I certainly come from a radical leftist and anarchist, or as someone else has said about me, "anarchistic adjacent perspective." I'm talking about collapse. I'm talking about the implications of global climate change, climate disruption, the so-called sixth mass extinction anthropocene, like these kind of big, heady, huge global subjects around, you know, extinction and mass extinction events and so on. And I kind of also explore the history of settler colonialism and issues around whiteness, or I should say, white supremacy. I talk about a whole bunch of stuff. And I think the point of it is to really get at the question of: what are the roots of these kinds of broader biosphere crises that we're in the midst of? Why is it that human beings, or the dominant culture of human beings that we are part of, producing a mass extinction event? And what does that portend? What does that lead to? What can we expect to happen in the coming decades? And kind of wrestling with really deep ... "Deep." [said with an introspective laugh] I mean "deep" in the sense emotionally and spiritually with the question of what does extinction mean for our species? And how do we grapple with that? It's a big question. So yeah, that's more or less what the podcast is kind of addressing.
**Margaret ** 04:03 Yeah, no. Okay, wait, so with extinction, do you run into this thing .... Okay, well, no, first I'm gonna ask about your name, then we're gonna come back to extinction. Where did you get this sick name? It's such a sick name. It's obviously ... As someone who is part of a project called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and then has a show called Live Like the World is Dying, I'm clearly a fan of this slightly long and poetic style of naming. But Last Born in the Wilderness is a sick name. I'm curious about its background.
**Patrick ** 04:28 Sure. I mean, the name itself came--it's a funny origin story really--when I came up with the name, I was homesick and I didn't know what to call this thing. I didn't even know what I wanted to make. But I was thinking about what my father would call me because I'm the youngest of this large Mormon family. No longer LDS but grew up in this LDS family, LDS environment. He would call me his "last born in the wilderness" because being kind of ... he's kind of a lovely but very quirky man who would have these very strange nicknames for his kids, including me being the youngest, being the, quote, "last born the wilderness," meaning he was paraphrasing from the Book of Mormon. There's a verse in the Book of Mormon about this family going through the wilderness and something about being the "last born in this wilderness of mine afflictions." Like it's really dramatic kind of bleak Mormon scripture stuff and it's weird. So, I don't know, I guess I thought of my dad, I thought of that, I thought of my history, I thought of ... it sounded like it could have multiple meanings. And it does because as I did the podcast more and more I started to really think about the other layers of it, of, "Okay, are we the last generation?" Like is this the end of this idea of wilderness. Wilderness itself is kind of an interesting idea. And the kind of colonialist notion, the dualism of civilization versus wilderness, and that in and of itself is a problematic idea. Like, there's a lot of layers to it that I've discovered, which is actually what I love about really cool names or titles of things is when you name something and you realize over time that it actually has other meanings that kind of come up, and you're like, "Oh, that actually means this as well. I did not know that." So that's where it comes from.
**Margaret ** 06:13 Okay, I really like that for a thousand reasons. One of the things you talked about ... I've been reading more and more stuff that's critical of the idea of "wilderness," right? Because you're creating an artificial distinction between humans and everything else, right? As if, like ... I mean, we're not capable of doing things that are not natural because we're literally, natural beings, right?
**Patrick ** 06:33 Yeah, exactly.
**Margaret ** 06:35 And the idea of untouched wilderness as this very colonial concept where it's like, actually, a lot of forests are managed by people and we're .... And it gets humans off the hook if we treat ourselves like we're bad, like, inherently, right?
**Patrick ** 06:51 Yeah.
**Margaret ** 06:51 Because like, "Ahhh, well, we're human, so of course we clear cut." And we're like, "Well, that's not true. A lot of people lived here for a very long time and didn't clear cut everything," right?
**Patrick ** 07:02 They didn't. No.
**Margaret ** 07:03 Okay. And then the other reason I like it, it's kind of the same background as Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness.
**Patrick ** 07:09 Oh, really.
**Margaret ** 07:10 I was once, when I was a weird "look at me, I'm so strange, oogle kid" running around and pulling books out of the trash, I dumpstered the Christian Science holy book. I don't know what it's called. And I just started cutting it up to make new assemblages of words and things, right? And one of the pieces that I cut out of it and then put on this piece of art I was making just said "strangers in the tangled wilderness." And I really liked it. And so I named my first zine I ever made like 20 some years ago--well not the first zine--but the first zine that I called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness because that's how I felt is like this wander, right? And then but since then I've learned, I think, I'm not an expert on Christian Science, although I can claim, my great grandmother was raised that way and then she was like, "This sucks," and then she just became an agnostic atheist pagan person. She was cool. It was like 100 years ago. She applied to college and she got so mad that they asked her what her religion is and she wrote "Sun worshiper," on the thing, which is complicated. But for a woman in the 1910s, I'm fucking into it. Anyway, the next line in it is "strangers in a tangled wilderness, wanders from the parent mind." And so it's using wilderness as a negative conception, I believe, in the traditional thing. And so yeah, it's like this interesting thing where Christianity ... Like, okay, so this "last born in the wilderness" seems to be implying this negative conception of wilderness. Which is this very negative version of Christianity producing such a thing. I don't know. That's what I've got.
**Patrick ** 08:46 Yeah, I think the wilderness in scripture and Christian literature, or whatever, it's very much this .... Like, if you're wandering the wilderness, you're not in a good place. You've kind of either been banished or God is leaving you alone, giving you distance to figure your shit out for a while. Like, there's good things and bad things with that. But I think that the wilderness can .... Yeah, there is this implication in it of it being symbolic, or whatever, of it being not the best place to be in. You're not in paradise, that's for sure. You're not in the Promised Land, that's for sure. You're maybe on the way there, but you're not there. Yeah. And certainly, in that passage, if I remember, it's like, "In the wilderness of mine afflictions." Like, it's very, it's not ... you know, it's not a good place to be. But they were on their way to the Promised Land, I guess, in that scripture. So ...
**Margaret ** 09:42 Okay, so you're like the last one before we reach paradise or whatever?
**Patrick ** 09:46 I guess. I don't know
**Margaret ** 09:47 Like you're the last people who have a concept of wilderness and everyone else is going to live underground growing their food in very controlled environments because everything's hard.
**Patrick ** 09:55 I guess so. I mean, yeah, I don't know. I think that certainly the world as we know it, the world that you and I were born into, is like kind of no longer here and we've entered into a new earth, which is not one that is hospitable to human, or much of the more than human life, unfortunately and it's gonna get progressively more and inhospitable. So, being the last born is really ... it's not a ... it's all of us. It's not like .... You're not the last man on the Earth, or whatever, or the last person on the Earth. You're one of a generation, or several generations, that really remembers what it was like before the climate was completely chaotic and everything was on fire and everyone was coughing in your face with a plague. You know, that was a nice time. Remember that? That was cool. And now we're in this new place, or this seemingly novel place for us at least, of, kind of, amplifying crises. And it's .... Yeah, so anyway, sorry, that's rather bleak. But it's a little bit of what I talk about, I guess, or bring up in the podcast. The overarching sense.
**Margaret ** 11:04 No, no. Okay. Well, let's talk about coughing in people's faces with the plague. [Laughing] One of the topics that we wanted to talk about was kind of a little bit of where we're at with Covid. And not just a like, "Hey, there's a new wave coming. And there's new ... or here." And there's also like, you know, "Time for your yearly booster," and there's the non MRA [struggles with the letters]
**Patrick ** 11:27 Non MRNA.
**Margaret ** 11:28 Yeah, thank you. Vaccines that just got approved and like all this other stuff. But, more about, I want to kind of ask you about what you've learned through your work about the fact that we are living in this place where community care has been left to individuals and smaller organizations, by and large, with some larger institutions trying to do good, while the, at least, federal level care and things like that have largely abandoned us to fend for ourselves.
**Patrick ** 12:00 Yeah. You know, it's weird. This has been a disillusioning period, I think. Pandemic has been really rough for a lot of reasons. And I think I've talked about it a lot through a variety of lenses. I think there's a baseline of trust that's been lost among myself and a lot of other people. Like, I feel like to kind of continuing to keep up precautions and to avoid catching Covid is really a difficult thing at this time. And it's weird because there's been a normalization on such a broad level. And there's people on the left who really have given up and don't really care about it anymore. And seemingly, it sort of seems like we've kind of turned a corner. It feels like culturally, socially where it's kind of unacceptable to continue to care about it in this way. But I think if you are a leftist, in the broadest sense, not just a radical anarchist, or whatever, you really need to kind of get the facts straight about what Covid is and how it's still impacting people. How many people are becoming effectively disabled as a result of Covid infections? And then normalizing it is really fucked up. It's eugenicist, frankly. It's ableist. It's wrong. And I was just thinking, I don't know if I want to call .... I don't want to .... I don't know. I was thinking recently about how my partner and I moved up to Canada. Actually, we're in Victoria, BC right now, the city that is called Victoria, on Vancouver Island. There was an anarchist bookfair here. No mask requirements at this fair. And I think at other book fairs around, I don't know if around BC or just in the US in particular, masks were a requirement, like respirators were required. It's just a basic thing I think we need to kind of do now as leftists or anarchists is just to have, if we're gonna have a public event, these types of things just need to be kind of there. Like we just have to do them. Because there's a lot of people who are immunocompromised or disabled that just can't show up because this is not a safe, "safe," these [unhearable word] words, but like literally, it'll harm their bodies.
**Margaret ** 14:09 Yeah, it's like full of spikes that are shooting out of the ceiling. You know, it's not...
**Patrick ** 14:14 Yeah, exactly. So I think just the act of community care on that level--I mean, you don't have to be an anarchist to do this of course--but I think particularly for anarchists that are supposedly about communal acts of care and mutual aid, like this is a really basic one, a pretty easy one. It's interesting how it's not-- you know for anarchists, there's no like ... I don't know if there's a global anarchist Federation that has doled out some kind of guidelines. That would never make sense. But it's interesting how in every place around North America there's different kinds of cultural temperaments, or certain attitudes, around certain things and particularly around Covid. It's interesting how in Canada, how maybe anarchists in Canada don't maybe care as much about it. I don't know. I guess I can't speak for them, but it's an interesting thing to experience the ways in which the normalization of Covid has affected different regions. And it's ... Yeah, so anyway, I just wanted to kind of bring that up because we are still in the midst of this thing. I can get into reasons why it's still a problem, why it is still a threat to people's health, but it shouldn't be. I don't know. I just think it's really imperative that anarchists kind of get with the program if they haven't already.
**Margaret ** 15:26 Yeah, and like, I've been fairly proud of the fact that overall I've found anarchists and punks and different sorts of subcultural folks and political folks to be more on top of it than the average person or place, but not .... I haven't been blown away either, you know? And we have had .... Most of the book fairs that I've been aware of or gone to, or whatever, this year have had some kind of masking requirement. Sometimes it's a rigid requirement. Sometimes it's like, here's the masks at the door, and someone's going to kind of be like, "You should really wear one of these," but not like kick you out without a mask. Like, I .... Shout out to the anarchist space called Firestorm in Asheville, North Carolina that during COVID, they actually moved into a new building, and part of why they picked the building, as far as I can tell, is that it used to be an auto shop so the doors open all the way, like one wall is open. And they still have a mask requirement inside of the store because they're like, "Well, they're still a pandemic. So you should wear a mask. This isn't complicated," you know? And like .... Okay, have you ever seen the TV show The 100?
**Patrick ** 16:42 I think I've heard of it.
**Margaret ** 16:45 I watched the first two or three seasons a while ago. And I .... But there's this thing that I think about all the time. It was not a particularly important TV show to me. But there's one thing that seemed kind of hackneyed at the time where basically almost no one can live on the Earth because there was a pandemic. And a lot of people live in space. And then some people come back down from space. And then there's people who have "lost their minds" and "lost civilization" who, you know, have adapted. And then there's these people who live inside a mountain. And they're like, "Oh, we can't go outside the mountain except with, you know, full suits that protect ...." I forget the word for this, like the chemical suits or whatever.
**Patrick ** 17:23 Like hazmat suits or something like that.
**Margaret ** 17:25 So yeah, you can't go outside without a hazmat suit and a gas mask. And like, you know, when you come back in you have to go through decontamination and all this stuff. And I remember watching it and being like, you just sort of take it for granted. You're like, yeah, you know, if there was a thing in the air that killed people or made people disabled, people would like, take it seriously, you know? And then now I'm like, "Man, that was a utopian piece of fiction right there." Like, within the first week someone would be like 'Fake news. There's nothing in the air outside," and then the whole mountain would have been destroyed.
**Patrick ** 18:00 Speaking of like pop culture .... Like, sometimes it is. I watched that film Contagion a while ago. It came out before Covid. It's like what, a Stevens Soderbergh film? Whatever, it doesn't matter. It came out. And it was like "What would happen if a really, really dangerous, very contagious virus just started spreading? Like, what would the agencies do? What would the CDC do? What would global world governments do?" Whatever. And, you know, it was fairly .... It tried to be realistic while also being kind of dramatic. And it was a really nasty virus. Everybody is locked down, quarantine, blah, blah, blah. They make a vaccine, they do a lottery, people get it at the end, and it's over. Like, that's the end of the movie. Everybody gets the vaccine. Everybody gets the vaccine, everybody's happy to get the vaccine. And no, you know, I mean, yeah, certainly .... Covid is in this weird, I feel like it's in this weird space. And I've said this before on an interview with somebody, this epidemiologist, I was saying it's this weird space where it's like, it's obviously really, really bad to get it, but it's also like a lot of people get it and it doesn't seem to affect them that much. They kind of feel like, "Oh, it's kind of like the cold or kind of like a flu." It isn't, though. I mean, looking at the actual virus and how it affects the body, it is not like those viruses. So it's very different. But the fact is, is that, you know, percentage wise, you know, most people get it, they don't die from it. So what's the big deal? So, I think it's in this weird space where it's a very contagious, very nasty virus, but it doesn't have the mortality rate of like Ebola or something so people aren't going to take it seriously. So, it's weird. It's a weird thing. And we're, you know, almost four years into this thing. So, people are obviously quite weary. We've been talking about it. So yeah, it's hard.
**Margaret ** 19:53 No, totally. And like, I mean, it's funny because it's like I also get the ... I get why people are over it and have to live their lives. And I think I talked about this in a recent episode, I can't remember. I was talking to someone about it. I no longer have real conversations. I only have podcast conversations. It was like, okay, we can't not have live music as part of our human experience of the world, or whatever, right? But to me it's all about looking at these cost-benefit analyses. And by and large, with exceptions, like if someone's doing hard manual labor all day I can see why wearing a mask is particularly hard, or like, you know, there's complicating factors. But, overall, it's just not a fucking big deal. Like to--Covid is--but to wear a mask--
**Patrick ** 20:38 Yeah.
**Margaret ** 20:39 --for, I think, most people in most situations, And I think the main reason people don't wear masks is because of the social aspect of it. Because they are afraid of being the only person wearing a mask. And I just like ask us to not act out of fear. I ask us to do what's right. Or I think we are asked by being alive. I think that we are asked to be ... to do what is right, not what is popular, or whatever, right? And, so that's what's so disappointing to me about it. And I mean, this is part of why everyone gets so mad at people who .... Because I also try not to be like .... You don't really like gain a lot when you tell people like, "What the fuck? What's wrong with you? You can't do that." It's not a very effective strategy, you know? And so I do think it's like, overall, I really appreciate a lot of the phrasing that I've seen about being like, "Hey, even if you stop masking, here's like a good reason to start again." And like, you know, there's no harm in just mea culping and just starting to mask again,
**Patrick ** 21:46 Yeah, no, for sure. And I don't know, there's a lot of other things going on too. When you .... It really is fascinating to be like .... You obviously want to be like, you want to encourage this level of care and I think what's sort of hard is there is a real lack of public .... Like, good public health messaging has been terrible. So, it's an interesting dynamic. I feel like anarchists are people who are more on the ground organizing at grassroots levels. At a grassroot level, you are trying to fill a void, which is the government doesn't really want to fucking deal with this shit. They just don't want to deal with it. They have, they've learned enough. And they know that they can move on warm, more or less. And so they're not going to do anything about it anymore. And so you have to take care of yourself, The rich are taking care of themselves. They have all the tools, They know exactly how to run a Covid-safe event. They've been doing it for a while now. And they have really good like .... In the way that you would pay for security or catering at an event, they pay for Covid Safety coordinators. Yeah, they're really good at it. And if they're doing that, and they understand this, then we should be doing it for ourselves because we as the poors, we need to take care of each other, take care of ourselves and learn basic information that unfortunately a lot of people don't have. And actually .... I understand that by doing my podcasts or doing this kind of work that I am able to delve into some of these subjects more closely. So, I might know a little more about Covid than the average person. And honestly, the more I learn about it, the more I don't want to get it and the more I would encourage people to avoid reinfection more than anything. If you've had it before, you don't want to get it again. There's so many intersecting issues here. I guess I just, I just really want to emphasize community care is the most important thing right now in regards to this. Need to really get on top of that, if we haven't already. And a lot of people are. It's amazing, actually, how many people are doing it, like mask blocks. There's all kinds of people organizing around this subject. And they don't have any particular, seemingly political ideology that's animating it. It's just they're doing it because it's right.
**Margaret ** 23:57 Yeah, totally. One of the things you were saying about realizing like the government has abandoned us, so the government has moved on and things like that. It's one of these ... at the beginning of Covid, it actually kind of challenged, in some ways, it challenged a lot of my own anarchist thoughts, right? Because I try not to assume I'm right. I try not to look at a problem and say "What's the anarchist solution?" I try to look at a problem and say, "What's the solution?" I have a bias that lends itself towards non state, non capitalist solutions. But I try to earnestly look at every problem and say, "What is the best solution?" and so far in my life the answer is usually nonstate, anti capitalist, anti oppression, right? Well, and some of those things are also moral, you know. But at the beginning of Covid, you start being like, "Well, shit, someone needs to .... This needs to be organized on a massive scale, right?" And then, now what we actually saw instead gave me the opposite, whereas at the beginning of Covid mutual aid groups popped up everywhere, you know, and mutual aid groups like stepped into the void of what was not being met. Because people were locked down, they were like, not able to meet a bunch of other needs, and a lot of them, in the US, at least, we have, you know, we got stimulus money or whatever. And it wasn't enough for most people. And, but I think that it becomes really clear that you look a year on and as soon as Covid is over, you're like, "Oh, you're running some cold math about dead people in the economy, or disabled people in the economy, and you are deciding that getting people back to work makes the country more money even though a bunch of people will die or become disabled as a result," you know? And so it's like one of those things, to me, it just lays bare the reality of government, that governments exists to make this kind of cold calculation, not take care of people.
**Patrick ** 25:57 Yeah, no, I think at the beginning there was a lot of ambiguity. We didn't know what this would really be. So obviously lock downs--or what we would call lock downs but really just kind of stay-at-home orders--or just tell people, like, "Please just avoid social gatherings for a while." And then the masks came into the picture and things like this, that was implemented just because there was, you know, there was a lot of ambiguity. We didn't know everything we know now. And once the, kind of, the cold calculus really came in, and there's a lot of other things too, but really when that came in and it was like, "This is hurting the economy. This isn't gonna work. You know, we have to really focus on jobs over, you know, everything else, over our lives. So, yeah, let's just get back to work." And I don't know. But I think it is kind of an interesting thing, though, because the anti-mask thing is very much an aesthetic choice. It's not as much a practical, irrational thing, because we could have jobs and all this stuff running exactly as before but people are wearing high quality respirators. Sure, we could have all kinds of things implemented. It would take an investment. From a cold capitalist perspective, it's rational to put an air filtration, it's rational to have people wear respirators, and yet from .... I don't know what it is, but just the idea of actually providing public health infrastructurally on that level is just not possible at this point for some reason. It's just not feasible. I was thinking about the kind of origins of public health, as it were, and like John Sn--I think his name was John Snow in England--he kind of figured out where the cholera outbreaks were coming from. And that really helped kickstart this movement to, you know, kind of figure out how to provide clean water for people on a massive social scale, on the scale of a city, right? It took a long time and a lot of deaths for something to finally change. And now we just take for granted that when you turn on a faucet in most places around, say, North America, you're gonna find you're gonna have clean water. Like it's pretty not always the case, certainly, but, you know, it's kind of taken for granted that that's almost like a right that we have. But clean air has not really entered into that same, that level of feeling like an entitlement that we have as human beings for a quality of life issue, that this is important. So, I don't know, it's interesting to witness how this has been playing out and also sort of an anarchist, or whatever, thinking about it from that level of like, if we want to move away from States and governments, how would an anarchist society deal with this issue? How would non-Statist, anti-Statists deal with this? And it's interesting. I don't know yet. I haven't really figured that out. And, I was kind of thinking because you do a history podcast as well. And I'm wondering if there was anything you came across as, you know, kind of radical leftist movements that were like, "How do we apply the values of public health and health care from a maybe communal collectivist sense that does not rely on the institution of states and bureaucracies? Like, I don't know, I wonder about this because we're trying to just fill the gap of what the State isn't doing. It's almost reactionary, right? What would it look like to be proactive in that sense? I don't know. I don't have an answer to that. I just think it's interesting.
**Margaret ** 29:26 Okay, no, that's interesting. From a history point of view, there's a piece that I read right near the beginning of pandemic--that I haven't read in a while and I don't remember as well--this Italian anarchist, Malatesta, wrote a piece called like something like "Anarchists and the Cholera Outbreak," and it was about anarchist public health responses to a late 19th century health crisis. But I also know that anarchists have been doing a ton of stuff on public health since the beginning. I think that like .... I mean, you can look at like ... it's anarchists who, at least in the US, pushed birth control and pushed information about sexually transmitted diseases and like sexual health. And it's like, people are like, "Oh, yes, early feminists," and I'm like, "Yeah, they were early feminist anarchists." I mean, there's some exceptions to that. And then of course, you have bad examples where Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was, like, a "complicated figure" who embraced non-racialized eugenics. And that is bad. But it is spun to mean that she was different, that she believed in something different than what she actually believed. And, but it's still bad. And she started off as an anarchist. She, actually, by the time she was really doing the eugenics because a lot of like--a lot of eugenics, you kind of need the State for, right, especially like the evilest parts of it or the like who gets to decide who has babies are whatever, right, and all that shit. But Margaret Sanger was an anarchist when she first started doing a lot of the birth control stuff. Emma Goldman got arrested a ton of times. The person who's at the longest in jail in US history for advocating birth control was this guy--I just did an episode about this, I don't normally have all these facts in front of me--was this guy named Ben Reitman, who was mostly an anarchist. He spent most of his life fucking around with the anarchist scene. But the anarchists scene didn't like him because he was super horny and he kept cheating on Emma Goldman, which is impressive because they were in an open relationship. Yeah, but he still managed to sort of piss her off with how many people we slept with, even though it was supposedly okay. He spent the longest of anyone in history, in US history, in jail for advocating birth control. And he was also a ... he was a hobo doctor. He was a doctor who went to medical school, became a physician, specifically so that he could treat STIs in the poorer classes and people who didn't have access to public health. And so a lot ... As far as I can tell, I see this thing, this pattern happen a lot where things come from the bottom up and then the top is like, "Okay, cool, we got that." And you can see this benevolently where you're like, "Oh, it comes from the bottom up and then the State comes in and takes charge and everything's okay." And, and there's some advantages that have come up through that, but overall, I think it is to the detriment of these systems. And I think that... I don't know, I guess I'm like, I think that decentralized networks that have some forms of centralized information sharing, are very capable of doing these sorts of things. Also, sorry, I'll stop spitting out anarchist history in a minute.But the legalization of abortion, the first Western European country... Soviet Russia was the first country to legalize--I could be wrong about this--was one of the first countries, if not the first country, to legalize abortion in Europe. But then Stalin was like, "Just kidding. You must make babies," because he's a bastard. Then Federica Montseny, the woman Minister of Health in revolutionary Spain, who was an anarchist--which is really complicated and there was a lot of arguing at the time about whether Federica Monseigneur and some of her peers should have joined the coalition government--she legalized abortion. And so it's like, funny. So even the State idea of public health came from an anarchist who was part of the State, you know?
**Patrick ** 33:30 I don't know, I think that it's this thing where when we're thrust into these big crises, like a pandemic, we start to really... we do have to reevaluate our ideological stances a little bit like. Because for me, you know--I think this is something we talked about when you were on my podcast like three years ago, or whatever--something about, like, it's not our position to tell people how to do things. Like, if it's another country and other people they're going to figure out how to solve their problems in their own way. And, you know, I think a lot of revolutionary movements do lead to certain types of, obviously, State kind of action or States.... It's directed towards the State or the State itself's kind of response to it in a way that is actually beneficial to the people. But that's not because the State is good. It's just under enormous amounts of pressure. It's just.... It's complicated. I don't think it's one thing and I think that it's a good thing that the government was able to mass produce or help mass produce vaccines, but I also think it was really fucked up that it was then decided that that was the end of the pandemic because everybody was vaccinated. It's kind of this... It's this thing. It's not one thing. It's very complicated. But I do think overwhelmingly, absolutely, if public health is being administered on this sort of ground level where the feedback between the actual public and the sort of people administering public health, if that feedback loop is shorter, where you're able to actually hear what people are saying and you can actually see what's going on in the ground, there's an actual connection and it's done democratically and collectively then you actually can administer public health in a way that is going to help people and not being imposed on people. Right? So yeah, I think there's been, for me, a lot of questions and lessons learned from this pandemic up to this point. So, and also, I don't know, I just throw this in there, they're not necessary anarchist, but like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, you know, they were very much about health care and administering health care on a community level and did forward a lot of things that even today...like I think it was something like the Young Lords were really pushing for patients having access to their own... like that the doctors had to explain to them what....Is that right?
**Margaret ** 35:44 Yeah, they introduced the Patient's Bill of Health that has since been used internationally.
**Patrick ** 35:51 So you know, and they were radical, you know, they took over hospitals, they occupied, you know, they did a lot. So, yeah. Anyway, I just, I think in regards to the pandemic, right now, whatever major breakthroughs that we're gonna have in regards to dealing with cleaning the air or, you know, actually making sure that people have access to resources and information, it's gonna have to come from the ground level, in pressure from the ground level because it ain't good right now. It really isn't.
**Margaret ** 36:22 No, and that, I really liked that. I think that's a really good point. And when I think about it, the Young Lords are the perfect example of this. And they're, you know, yeah, they were Marxist Leninists, but they were doing something from the bottom up and forced the city of New York City to take action. Like, for example, in the neighborhood that they lived in--they moved all over the place, but they first started in, I want to say, the Upper East Side in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Manhattan--and no trash was coming. No trash pickup was happening there, partly because of some racism of some white labor unions and the trash union and partly due to just systemic poverty and other forms of racism. It wasn't all just the trash workers problem...fault. But, you know, they just started dragging trash in the middle of the street and setting it on fire. And they did it in the parts of their neighborhood that rich people have to drive through. They did it in the through fares. And it worked. Trash pickup became a major issue in the next mayoral election. And then trash pickup, like they like, revolutionized how trash is picked up in New York City. And it was this major health issue. And then the other things that they would do is they would go door to door to do tuberculosis screenings. And they would also like--they're so fucking cool. At one point, they hijacked an X-ray van that was going through these neighborhoods to like X-ray people for tuberculosis but wasn't going to poor neighborhoods of color. And there's like some arguments about whether that was because of what time the schedule was and didn't work for people's jobs or if it was a straight up, like, "Nah, we're just hanging out in the white neighborhoods." But what happened was the X-ray technicians, they were like, "Sick, we don't give a shit. We just want to fucking help stop TB." And that's what's so interesting to me about government workers versus non-government workers is that the people doing the shit, whether it's for the government or not, they just want to get the shit done. They don't care which system is doing it. Like the X-ray technicians were like "Sick, fuck yeah, we're still getting paid. Like, it's a little weird that you came in with guns, but whatever, it was necessary. You take us up there." And then they started. And they ended up with a fucking X-ray van parked outside the Young Lords headquarters several days a week, paid for by the hospital. And so it.... I got really worked up.
**Patrick ** 38:37 Yeah, no. It's cool, though.
**Margaret ** 38:38 But I think that these questions about anarchist public health, one of the things that is so interesting to me is that it's like systems allow things to happen but people are who do it. And so often people will ask, will be like, "Well, how will an anarchist society produce insulin?" or whatever. And like, well, part of the answer is, I don't know how we make insulin now, but that's probably how we'll make it then too, right. You know? And so like, anarchist public health can look, in some ways, really similar in terms of like, well, we'll have people who know a lot about public health directing these things, you know? Because it's not the government that regulates things, it is people who design the systems of regulation. And anything that people can do, we are people, and also I'm not trying to disclude those people from my society. And I just want it to happen in a system that is actually anti-oppressive, that is horizontal, that is anti-capitalist, you know, that is all of these things. And so yeah, so what if instead of we build shit from the bottom up and the government swoops in and then kind of makes it shitty and watered down, we build things from the bottom up and then keep building and just keep those buildings that we make horizontal and keep them like.... Yep, I got totally worked up.
**Patrick ** 39:51 No, you're good. No, you're right, though. That's exactly it. Like, there are, at every stage of the way, I think...sorry, I'm also kind of worked up.... I feel like health and healthcare is actually is a core and central component of any sort of revolutionary movement because it is so integral to everyone, obviously, our health and well-being is such an integral part of everyone's lives. So how we treat disabled people, how we treat people of all age groups, how access to care is affect...you know, people's sort of demographic that they exist in, the racial system that we have, it affects how people have access to certain types of care. I mean, all of this is so...it intersects with so many things. So, I think the pandemic has highlighted a lot of this. And I think it's been a very upsetting and difficult time. And I think people kind of need to...they've tuned out. They need to kind of tune back in and I get why they tuned out, but they just need to try to tune in tune in a bit because it's going to--I'm sorry, it sounds bleak and this is kind of my thing--it's gonna get worse unless we make it better. And I think there's an assumption that somehow got better and it really hasn't. And again, this is just because I am, I mean, I am doing this sort of collaborative series right now. But also, I've just learned as much as I can about how Covid is affecting the body and it's a nasty virus. It's causing really wild complications in people's bodies. It is a very strange thing. So, you know, it's not enough to just tell you as an individual, "Please do this thing," or "Please do that." We need actual systems of care that really accommodate everybody. So yeah, to me, it is...and I know, we were kind of discussing how this, you know, what my podcast really addresses is a lot of it's around climate and the implications of climate change. How we deal with Covid is indicative of how we're dealing with...it's like a Russian doll, you know, nested within itself. It's like, "This is how we're dealing with this? Well, this is how we're dealing with ecological crisis and the climate crisis as well." How we adapt to the changes that are coming from this pandemic is how we are choosing or not choosing to deal with the changes that are coming from a rapidly changing climate system. So, this is all related. And I think, again, as radical leftists, you have to catch up with that and to kind of recognize that part of it in my opinion.
**Margaret ** 42:31 No, that makes sense. There's kind of...one of the things that I do, I do a lot of crafting as my main way to decompress and stuff like that, right, and one of the things that I've like been learning as I get older is a random maxim, that's a cliche, which is how you do one thing is how you do everything. And it's not literally true. But I think about it when I want to cut corners. I think about it, when I like... I finished, you know, I'm making my raised beds and I'm like, "I'm going to not sand that corner. It doesn't really matter. I'm not going to see that part" right? You know? But those all build up and more that by learning the discipline of handling things and taking things seriously, it puts me in the position for the parts that do matter, to not cut corners, to go at things systematically, to make sure I do things right. And I kind of liked this, this presentation of how we handle Covid is how we handle climate change. You know, they're not the same problem. They're related. They're part of the interwoven crises we are facing. And so we shouldn't freak out about either because that literally doesn't do us any good. But we should probably be more alarmed than overall we are about both of these things and looking soberly at the problem and what solutions are and running cost benefit analyses but not cost benefit analysis for what saves the economy but what costs benefit analyses feed people. And to be fair, the economy is part of what feeds people, but there's other methods of feeding people, which the government knows and that's part of why they're like "Shit, we got to make sure that we stay feeding people because otherwise people are gonna figure out communism."
**Patrick ** 44:17 Yeah. [Chuckling]
**Margaret ** 44:18 But...No, I like this framework. I like this idea that we should.... You know, I mean, it's a thing that I think I've talked about before on this show where I'm like, well, we should just be installing better HVAC systems. And even if you want to have...like, there's certain things that are not conducive to masking, right? An inside restaurant is not conducive to masking. And personally, I just kind of avoid them because it's not a big part of my life. I live in the middle of nowhere and I make all my own food. But that's me and I can't get mad at other people for making different decisions around that. But--well, I mean, there's certain decisions I can get mad at people about but whatever. But at the very least, you can look at being like, "Okay, we have a restaurant, how are we going to build it for HVAC? How are we going to build it for, you know, cycling the air as much as possible, for keeping windows open, for patio service, for whatever. And this is still within a very not changing that much about society framework. I would prefer greatly to consider larger frameworks. But then again, a lot of things that we talk about within larger frameworks... like when I imagine how I think society would work is that personally, I'd be like, "Well, a lot of food is like people cook at home and eat with their family and friends and stuff, but also, you can just go to the big free restaurant that's kind of probably a food line and they put food on your plate and then you eat it. And it's great. You hang out with everyone. And I'm like, well, how the fuck do you do that in a Covid world? And it's hard to know. And it changes what is possible and what is safe and what is good that we live in this different world. I'm done. This is the end of my rant.
**Patrick ** 45:51 Yeah, no, it's.... I think, you know, while I do, admittedly, succumb to sort of bleak and sad and depressed attitudes around a lot of things, I actually think what you said there is interesting because it's actually...you know, people look at it like it is a--what do they call it--a foreclosing of possibilities, right? And it is on some level. You are foreclosing the possibility of...like, for instance, I miss going to just coffee shops and chilling out and drinking coffee and working on my computer, reading, or whatever, and hanging out with people. And there's this whole like social aspect to that particular thing. But it is also a business where people are probably getting paid too little and being treated like shit by entitled customers. And, you know, I've worked in the coffee business long enough that I know exactly what that's like. That said, that is very much related to the restaurant business and all these other types of businesses and industries that people exist in where they're exploited regularly and people don't really, if they don't have to deal with that type of labor and do that themselves, they often don't really care. And so they just want that experience again, right? They just want to go back to being served again in a restaurant. That's so cool. If you, of course, have a more, I mean, anti capitalist laboratory attitude, you'd be like, "Well, how do we have that experience without it being so fucking shitty for a certain group of people," right? And how do we also make it so that it's Covid safe so that people don't catch awful plagues sitting around and having fun together? And eating, you know, and drinking coffee or wine or whatever? It's like, how can we imagine the restaurant/coffee shop experience without it being through this sort of...as it being a sort of capitalist enterprise? And that's...I think, through crisis, or through this sort of thing of a pandemic, we can reimagine it in a way that is safer and better for everybody that isn't exploiting everyone, or certain groups of people. You know what I mean?
**Margaret ** 47:48 No, absolutely. I...I don't know, I agree.
**Patrick ** 47:53 I think you just said something that kind of brought up something for me because I have this tendency, and it comes through in the podcast that I do a lot, which is I am not a particularly optimistic person. And so I can tend to fall into a.... I mean, there's certain things I'm just always going to have this attitude about, but you know, I think.... My partner laughed when I said that. [A third voice laughs in the background] I...I have the tendency, but I think I can kind of...it does foreclose possibilities and sort of radical action and things that can be done right now and can alleviate some of the suffering and misery that I and others are experiencing if we kind of just...I don't know, it's...I don't know. I guess I just appreciated what you said because it just kind of opened a little door in my head where I kind of forgot, like, "Oh, yeah, like, actually, I don't have to be that way all the time. Okay. Cool."
**Margaret ** 48:47 I think it's really funny that I took the name Killjoy and now I'm basically a professional optimist. I mean, I want to be a realist. But I'm like.... Well, like, I don't know, one of things I learned from cognitive behavioral therapy is they're, "Well, what's the worst that could happen?" and you're like, "Well, I could die." And they're like, "Okay, what then?" and you're like, "Well, then nothing," you know, and they're "Okay, well, what do you want?" Like, you know, and it's kind of like all this really terrible stuff is happening that's absolutely true. We need to take that seriously. But like, well, we're all gonna die anyway, you know? So...
**Patrick ** 49:22 Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, there's even something about..I think that what I've learned from doing my work is that, you know, I do get these responses from people that say, like, "I really appreciate that you're saying the thing. You're not looking away from it. You're just talking about it. There's actually a comfort in it." Because I think people feel kind of--and this word's overused--but gaslit where there's sort of this normalization of stuff that just feels like people aren't quite...like there's a glazed look in their eye when you bring up certain subjects and they're kind of bothered...you know, it's like...Um, it's a difficult thing, and I guess I've always been one to want to talk about those types of subjects. And, yeah, death, if death is the worst possible thing that can happen then, you know, what else? You know, then what? Right?
**Margaret ** 50:12 Yeah, what else you got? Like?
**Patrick ** 50:14 Yeah, exactly. So. But, I mean, Frankly, you know, I mean, you know, some of the subjects I deal with in a broad sense, you know, are about extinction and are about the implications of climate change. And that is a heavy thing. And I do think that it weighs on the minds and hearts of people. And so I don't know if there's answers...There's no answer to how to like.... There's no therapy that will fix that, right? There's no like...You can't go to a therapist to fix this problem. It's just, it is what it is. And so then what? And that's... I don't have an answer, but at least I can talk about it.
**Margaret ** 50:49 Absolutely. Well, we are running out of time, but I'm wondering if there was anything that I should have asked you on this particular topic and then if not, or after that, I'm wondering how people can find your work to engage with it.
**Patrick ** 51:06 Yeah, well, I mean, I'm glad we could talk about Covid and it did kind of open some things up for me, so thank you for the discussion. I don't know, I guess there's a lot to say. I guess I would ask people, if you haven't been masking, start masking again. We are in a wave. Learn more about that. It's actually quite fascinating. So just do that. That'd be cool. It'd be good for your own health and the benefit of others. There's a lot to say, I don't know, I guess I guess we could have talked more about some other aspects of my work. But this is fine because I've been obsessively learning about Covid, so that's probably on my mind more than anything. Yeah, no, I mean, I guess people can learn more about my podcast. I have my website lastborninthewilderness.com. Everything is there. You can listen to it wherever you listen to podcasts. You can support my work on Patreon. All that stuff. I have that.... I mentioned I'm doing a collaborative series with, his name is Joshua Pribanic from the Public Herald. He's a journalist and filmmaker. And we're doing a collaborative series on long covid specifically, so that should be.... We haven't quite figured out exactly how that's gonna play out. But we will have that out in the coming weeks or months, starting to release those episodes. So I would ask people to look out for that.
**Margaret ** 52:18 Hell yeah. Alright, well, thanks so much for coming on. And I have a feeling...yeah, there's so much more that even was on our list of things we're going to talk about, so I have a feeling I'm going to try and drag you back pretty soon.
**Patrick ** 52:29 Okay, good.
**Margaret ** 52:34 Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast then take public health seriously. [Said with a skeptically questioning tone] It shouldn't have to be on us. But it kind of always does because everything is always on us because we're all actually equals in this society that we all collectively build. So think about that, I guess, and listen to the Last Born in the Wilderness. And if you want to support this podcast in particular, you can support it by telling people about it, you can do.... You can tell machines about it. Just go to a computer and write on it with a sharpie and say like, "I like Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, and then whoever's computer it is, hopefully doesn't run as fast as you, and then after that, you can also support us financially by supporting us on Patreon, by supporting our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, whose province of name you now know. Because I was cutting up holy books like a jerk. And you can support us on Patreon and it's patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. If you support us at $10 or more a month, we send you a zine every month. But if you support us at like $1 a month, you're still helping this podcast have a transcript and you're helping this podcast be edited. Those are the people who get paid currently. And one day it'll pay the hosts and that'll be sweet because I like eating food. But I'm not trying to pressure you about that. Also, if you don't have any money, don't give it to us. Just fucking spend it on your own food. Like whatever. From each according to ability to each according to need. It is a slogan that predates Marx, so don't worry. But now I don't remember who said it off the top of my head. In particular, I would like to thank a list of people. I would like to thank Eric and Perceval, Buck, Jacob, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous, Funder, Janice & O'dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S. J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Michaiah. And as always, Hoss the Dog was a very good dog. I'm not gonna tell you where Hoss lives, but I've met Hoss. Hoss is great. Okay, I hope everyone is doing as well as you can despite the fact that everything's ending