This story was written as part of the (de)School Revolt 2023, which focused on storytelling.
by Sonia Muñoz Llort | PDF version
Once upon a time, in an island not far away from here, it was a cold winter night and Saoirse and Cúram were using the last pieces of wood to warm up their cabin. It was exactly 13 years ago that The Big Emptiness raged around the planet and their community were carefully using their solar systems during the night. Saoirse and Cúram grew up together, in a time when seas were rising, and the earth was heating up due to rich people’s greed. Saoirse and Cúram lived together with their animals. Crógracht was their cat, a lovely black long-haired street cat that loved to sleep at Saoirse’s feet. With them, there was always an old owl known as Eagna, who used to help Cúram find medicine herbs and plants in the woods under the full moon.
Being the oldest one, Saoirse was always seen as the strong one, the independent one. But in reality Cúram was always with them providing a safe space to grow and rest. Saoirse had the ability to fly, while Cúram had the ability to see in people’s hearts. They were part of a small group, and in their community, there were other humans and non-humans with different skills, that were appreciated and respected for all the good that they brought for the community.
Their community was in an island, and despite the geographical isolation, this little community had contacts and relationships with other communities far away with the remains of digital systems that now were collectivized. Before The Big Emptiness they realized that they needed to find new social structures to thrive, and when the collapse happened it produced a real acceleration of their plans. With a lot of powerful people leaving and colonizing other planets, most Earth inhabitants were left to themselves in the midst of the last known capitalism-made natural catastrophe. They had each other, and they were ready to repair physically and spiritually all the damage that was done the last 500 years. Capitalism was finally buried with its face down, to never return back to Earth.
The revolutionary learning they organized after The Big Emptiness, helped small communities in many places to regain their freedom and to gather all the wisdom from present and past events to create balanced and healthy worlds. So, every Wednesday night in Saoirse and Cúram’s small community they hold a resemblance night. This night was spent around fires, where everybody ate dinner together and they reminded each other through tales about important lessons to be remembered and learned. Every Wednesday they recalled how to fight and resist three awful and destructive shadows that poisoned people’s minds and hearts for many many centuries. These shadows were known in their community as the three past ghosts of capitalism because everybody knew about money and power, but these three ghosts were more difficult to perceive. Cúram, with a calm and deep voice, started this old tale.
“Long before our time in the autonomous communities, our grandmothers told us about the three ghosts of capitalism. These three ghosts hold power in the old national institutions such the state, but also in corporations and international organizations such the International Monetary Fund. The worst part is, that in the course of 500 years, these ghosts also hold power of people’s minds and hearts. These three ghosts were responsible of poisoning them from the inside, so people would become capitalism’s obedient followers.
The grandmothers were careful in naming them, in order not to wake peoples’ memories around them. These ghosts created hierarchies, segregation and discrimination. These ghosts hold souls as hostages and were responsible for justifying all types of bigotry. These three ghosts were the gouls of the hydra, the major monster that has been present on Earth since the beginning of times.
We, dear people, must know those ghosts and how we managed to control them. It’s a lesson to be remembered through coming times, to protect ourselves from destruction. Though these ghosts might present themselves having different names, they were connected beings that usually presented themselves together. Most people in those 500 years could not touch these shadows, but they could feel them. These ghosts were very much present in our ancestors’ tired bodies, thirsty souls and fragmented communities.
These ghosts’ names were rationality, individuality/private property and productivity. The first one stole from us our feelings, telling that some of us were not humans. Through rationality both torture and death against Black and Indigenous people were justified for hundreds of years, as well as disabled people’s dehumanization. The second ghost told us that we are on our own to live in our worlds, making us believe that we are each other enemies and that nobody has the right to live if they do not hold property in their names. The third one, is the ghost that convinced people that they were born just to work and make things for the rich class. Taking care of each other, our children, our sick or our elders, was seen as a weakness and the only goal in our lifes was to earn money for others.
During The Big Emptiness these three ghosts have became mostly invisible, and most people adopted them as they were a natural part of us. People hurt deeply in their solitude, blaming themselves if they didn’t have their own income and a lot of people lived in the streets. The three ghosts pushed people into despair that was masked by shallow entertainment and produced food. Most souls in the world were thirsty for connection, care and beloved communities. In that time, people thought that consuming was going to take away the pain, and that producing was a pride that earned us places in our old communities.
Many people was resisting these feelings, understanding the systems that fed these ghosts. But still most people accepted them and took these ghosts around in their hearts, fading away in a meaningless life where we as nature were not worth a dime. But the wounds that rich and powerful people were inflicting in the earth, were starting to be noticeable. Suddenly, right before The Big Emptiness and in a full predicted destructive period, the earth warmed up and suddenly life was deathly challenged. Rich people kept their theater going, signing treaties to save us that were never fulfilled. In their poisoned minds they needed to hoard more before we could stop, but the earth had other plans.
In these plans we humans have a lot to say, but the ghosts kept most people hostage in the so called Global North. Hostage in their own sick patriotical pride of civility while people in the Global South kept resisting. People became gradually tired of fake wars, bad food and dirty waters. This was not life. So while technology kept on being developed, people started to realize the difficult times that were heading. Times where we were going to need each other, not only in the physical world but also in the digital one.
In the midst of these uncertain times, some people called the Black messengers kept on warning against these ghosts and creating resistance every day. These Black messengers were storytellers from different places, with communities in their hearts that were constructing communities in the shadows of capitalism. The shadows were safe and calm. The resistance at this point had to be so strong, diverse and organized that is was better to focus on several fronts at the same time. They were constructing their own futures after The Big Emptiness. It was in these moments that they made these three ghosts presents. They needed to clean their hearts, and that could only be done in community, with our own actions and words.
Our ancestors wanted to create balance and peace, and every time these three ghosts were named, they needed to burn them in the fires every Wednesday as a reminder of the values we need to get rid of. Solidarity, the commons and mutual care were better companions to build up our communities with dignity and freedom.”
Cúram ended this story. People got quiet and now was the time for the elders to answer to the questions of the young. This was the time to celebrate our change of values, and how this change supported our lives now. Saoirse as usual was the embodiment of the freedom we always have as individuals, while Cúram balanced this with the need for collective responsibility for one another.
It became cold while the fire still was warming the community with hope. This was the end of this resemblance night, an evening to keep on sharing and creating stories. Children went to sleep, and others stayed for a while playing some calm music. The ghosts would never come back again. They would make sure of it every dawn in the little community.