The Daily Practice of Abolition: Surviving the future means questioning the very institutions that betray us.

AuthorBranson, Scott

The pieces of this book meet at the intersection of many seemingly endless cycles, some that have been repeating for years, some that promise to continue into a never-ending future: a pandemic, mishandled to deadly results and irrevocably changing our lives; the boom and bust of capitalist markets, alternatively showing their fragility and their resilience; the biggest militant street movement the United States has seen, echoing the various global uprisings of the 2010s, followed by the election spectacle that utterly demoralized the grassroots as usual (the beautiful moment of burning the police precinct in Minneapolis got lost in the old story of pointless liberal protests and legible demands); the continual normalization and rise of fascist street violence and infiltration into local power structures; the more and more incontrovertible evidence of the nearness of environmental collapse.

We had hoped at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that the contradictions of a world that demands we pay to live yet forces us out of work would lead more people to take matters into their own hands. When the collective refusal finally happened, it was a magnified echo of Ferguson, in response to the state violence delivered to George Floyd, one among several police killings of Black people in that week alone. The George Floyd uprising brought the terms of abolition to a wider public, just as it became a focal point of Black queer/trans militant organizing. If it introduced new radicals to street movements, it also gave them firsthand experience of the violent hand of the state, as, in city after city, people in the street were hailed with rubber bullets, tear gas, and other forms of police assault. For some queer and trans people, this experience only solidified a commitment to abolition--of police, of prisons, of capital, of the settler state and all its institutions.

However, in the aftermath of the uprisings, we saw once again that radical militancy is always vulnerable to recuperation by the systems in place, and abolition is a slippery term. Just as "decolonize" has become an abused metaphor that no longer threatens the colonial power structures, we have witnessed calls for abolition either turn into a watered-down version of "Defund the Police" or simply be emptied of any material meaning. So how do militant queers attach ourselves to an ongoing abolition movement that can be traced back to the self-liberation of Black African people who were...

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