“The Beast” is an often-used metaphor for the system of inequality, exploitation, destruction and oppression we live in and struggle against, across history, around the globe, and in our own colonized minds and bodies. Capitalism and imperialism are the Beast, but the Beast also encompasses older social inequalities, irrationalities, isms and cruelties that the current system adopts and adapts to its purposes.
“The Belly of the Beast” is that space of multifarious, concrete, everyday, on-the-ground manifestations of this system that engulf and often overwhelm us, the aspects of the system that we come up against directly and struggle against directly in our lives and activist work.
A metaphor does not replace analysis, and it cannot be taken too far, but having a simple, evocative way to sum up what we’re fighting against can help sidestep ideological pitfalls. It also highlights that we are talking about a system that is inhuman in its basic nature, and unequivocally dangerous for all of us.
Acknowledging people’s ability to survive and do many great things within its confines, and recognizing that despair and its variants within our colonized minds may lure us to think (hope) otherwise, this metaphor makes it clear that saving Earth and creating a society based on justice, equality and active participation of all is incompatible with the Beast. There is no way to tame or befriend it, only become its victim or accomplice, often both. As activists, regardless of our preference, we are in structural contradiction to the Beast, a contradiction that plays out in many layers and levels of conflict over with it, but inevitably must lead to overcoming and transforming it. We are also transformed in this process, as to a large extent the Beast is in us, not metaphysically or mystically, but literally. More about this later.
The posts in this category explore how activists confront the Beast, in social movements, in liberated zones carved out in the midst of struggle, and in their daily lives within its belly.