I really couldn't tell you why, but since I've moved back home I have gotten more... into? interested? engaged? enraged? Whatever it is, I'm more of it concerning the political situation in Mississippi. Maybe it's because I know, deep down, that I'll probably never leave for good again. Or maybe things have gotten just this bad in the past 20 years since I left.
I've been actively engaged in politics basically since my college days in Florida. All through my time in Georgia and New Orleans, I've kept my head in even when it was considered a character flaw by many in my social circle. That being said, I'm not going to lie, it was mostly national politics. I dealt with local stuff when it affected me, particularly in Athens, but my eye was always turned to at least the U.S. Congress or, failing that, socio-political concerns that were greater than one state. The Confederate flag on state flags or at state capitols, for example, has driven me up the wall for years.
I've always kept an eye on Mississippi. It's my home, much as I may not like that (or as much as my brother hates it). The bulk of the state or, for that matter, Itawamba County, I really didn't give a good goddamn. Now, my home is here in Peaceful Valley, this hill I live on. Then, though, it was just where I grew up. I stayed away and intended to stay away until I was put in the ground, and only then because I already have a grave site. Mississippi's where I'm from, I'd tell people, it's not where I am.
Well, now it's where I am and unless something drastic happens, it's where I'll stay. I don't like that, but that's how it is. Anyone with half a lick of history knows Mississippi has a dark, nasty history, one that we're still trying to come to grips with. Like William Faulkner wrote in Requiem For A Nun, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Our history of slavery, Jim Crow, Medgar Evans, near-total political domination by the Klan for decades, and even the overall anti-labor history of treating poor white trash as nothing more than a bulwark for the rich and powerful.
But now, it seems it's gotten that much more real. The ICE raids on the chicken plants that were used to rid the company of workers who'd made hay about sketchy practices by management. The medical marijuana initiative that's on the 2020 ballot. The ongoing horror of prisoners living and dying while in state penitentiaries and their deadly conditions. And now, the Nissan plant down in Canton is doubling the workers' load in the midst of CORVID-19 while giving the executives leave to "self quarantine". Why? Because we have a labor history that is actively hostile to any concept of a union.
For the first time in a long time, state and local politics feel real and urgent in a way they haven't. Along with that, my general disgust with both parties and even soi-disant "leftists" and "socialists" as well as my long-dormant interest and sympathy for anarchistic political theory. I've said it elsewhere, one of the most attractive aspects of anarchism, to me, is the suggestion that you can use the tools of the system to change the system and you can do it in smaller, personal ways. Right here, right now, in Mississippi 2020, that just sings, man.
I'll be 45 next month. I'm single with no kids and no real strong ties. I find myself at times cut adrift from my own head. I don't understand it nor do I want it, but I won't deny part of me envies my brother and his wife or my cousin and his family. I wouldn't trade my freedom for the world, but a man does need something to latch himself to, something to make the universe worth the effort.
I'd might as well try to make this state a little better than I left it.