CURRENTLY READING: Sober Living for the Revolution by Gabriel Kuhn

Sober Living for the Revolution
Since I picked this book up at PM Press’s table at the Brooklyn Book Fair, I’ve been carrying it with me, reading and taking note of Kuhn’s interviewing style and the kinds of answers he receives. It begins with a very entertaining back-and-forth with an irritated-sounding Ian McKaye (which I think any fan should read) and from the beginning this educational collection is unlike any I’ve read before. Kuhn’s line of questioning often include his personal research and you get to wondering if he’s ever really listening to what his interviewees are saying or just trying to prove his credibility. It’s teaching me a lot in that regard: when to speak and when to just shut up and listen. Seems you’ll ask better questions the more you do the latter.

This book certainly gets a lot of stares on the subway. Some chuckles, too. But I say we need to keep reading about and cultivating the past, even if it’s a book about a culture that’s been dismissed by a lot of people. Someone said to me today that the past is all in the past but I disagree. The past repeats itself, whether or not you’re paying attention. Shouldn’t we teach ourselves to be better equipped for the next time around? There’s such a wealth of knowledge inside this book, all garnered from a truly diverse assembly of DIY activists and musicians from around the world. Wordy interviewing aside, it is weighted with powerful wisdom, no matter your take on straightedge or vegan politics.

One of the most influential messages I gleaned from these pages is how building positive, close-knit communities is possible. But it takes everyone to keep up the maintenance. Take this quote from Laura Synthesis, editor of Synthesis zine in London and longtime vegan straightedge activist, who offers her two-cents on the crumbling underground scene:

“Dammit people, shared understanding and values, even over something as superficial as straightedge, is a precious thing and these connections need nurturing and maintaining…Social solidarity is healthy—it gives us roots and comradeship in an atomized world and can be a base for building or co-operating for social change. When I meet a fellow punk, sober or otherwise, I’ll keep trying to build those bridges because we all need each other and the better world we can create together.” p. 280

Can we agree to start cultivating important relationships within our communities? Could we build together instead of letting just a handful pull the weight for social change? Could we maybe stop being scared and start communicating? Well, if anything, it helps to know I’m not the only one asking these questions.

Sober Living for the Revolution by Gabriel Kuhn is available for purchase at the PM Press store.

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