Hello Shitstorm, Hello Meatgrinder: Installment #2, Meet the Rural Progressive Resistance

By Adam Gnade

Rural progressives are kind of like narwhals — they exist but most people will never meet one face to face. Regardless of political alignment, the country folk I know like to be left alone; when you live in a place where “not a lot goes on” (which is of course bullshit) your neighbors can be the biggest gossips you’d ever care to meet.

A lot of us in the rural leftist minority steer away from talking politics with our neighbors. We don’t use bumper stickers to advertise our beliefs and we lean toward small talk and weather speculation at the feed store. The mouthy city kid I was years ago has learned to keep it close to the vest in public but that doesn’t mean I’m not active. And it doesn’t mean there aren’t others like me fighting the good fight (or like some of the older folks I know, living quietly but by example).

Specific cases are best left unelaborated for privacy’s sake but I know people out here who think for themselves, who value mutual aid over gain, who live the precepts of anarchism even if they don’t call it by name. Some are radicals in the deliberate sense, others are just kind and levelheaded. (A lot of the fairest people I know are apolitical. Their goodness comes from a moral code fundamental to who they are as human beings.) The selfless action I see in my little farming community puts most “scenes” to shame. In counter-culture we talk about “community” but most of us are just walled-up in our little fortresses, streaming Netflix and hiding from our neighbors.

Which I get. That whole “terror of knowing what the world is about” will knock your legs out from under you. Still, preaching about community when you don’t engage in it doesn’t help anyone, and that’s the point of community, right? To help our fellow humans?

People are quick to call out country folk as bigots but there is a leftist rural resistance out there even if you’ve never seen it first-hand. Or maybe you have but you wrote whoever it was off as another hick, another migrant worker, another cowboy. Remember that what lies beneath the surface of even the most cut-and-dry seeming folks might surprise you. It might even have your back in this fight we’re all in.

ADAM GNADE is the author of three books of fiction, Hymn California, Caveworld, and, most recently, Locust House. His series of novels and connected “talking records” are released by Pioneers Press and Three One G. He is also the author of a work of nonfiction, The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin‘ Sad. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, he now lives and writes on the Hard Fifty Farm situated in the hilly countryside between Kansas City, MO, and Lawrence, KS. He is currently working on a “large and substantial novel about Americans at home and away” with a late-2017 release. His work is available at http://www.pioneerspress.com