Dangerous Compassions

disabled by capitalism

Hello, reader.  How are you doing?  In the recent disability justice, fat liberation skillshare that I led with my community, I mentioned that I’m disabled by capitalism.  I have various differences and diagnoses, and they deeply affect what I can do.  But the actual problem isn’t with me–I live a wonderful disabled life, more happy and fulfilled than most anyone I know.  Definitely more grounded and creative than most people I know.

The problem disabling me is capitalism, requiring consistent 40+ hours of work.  Capitalism has unrealistic expectations.  I don’t need to change myself to fit the world–I don’t need to learn how to act less disabled and make money better.  No way.  I need to change the world, creating a happier culture.  To do that, I need to create pockets of safety for myself and others, to do cultural transformation work, with plenty of honesty and rest.

Hmm, yes.  Good explanation, Laura-Marie.  I love those sweet cozy pockets where we can nurture and be our true selves.  Work has its professionalism–employees are supposed to leave our feelings at the door.  Our needs mostly don’t matter there.

Killing off parts of ourselves for eight or more hours per day is not the way to be a happy animal.  Of course that’s a horrible idea.

life’s work

Changing culture from the safer space of a realistic pocket environment, while unconditionally loving myself and others–that’s a big part of my life’s work and what I’m on earth to do.  What are you on earth to do?

Yesterday I was talking with a new friend about privacy and zines.  A lot of people wonder how I can be so upfront in my zines, telling deep truths about pain, death, illness, family harm, trauma, addiction, the voices I hear. Putting that out into the world for anyone to see is something I do on a daily basis.  Other people feel too vulnerable, and ask me how I can do it.

I explain that vulnerability is a skill I work hard to cultivate.  To begin the first issue of the first functionally ill 16 years ago, I wrote an open letter to the people who love me.

But I would rather love and be loved by everyone in the world.  So that love I share and openness I share can be for anyone.  Radical vulnerability is a risk I choose to take.  It’s a wild, wonderful way to build bridges.

I assume the reader can handle my truth, and I tell it.  That’s a sweet trust.  To assume the reader is brilliant, curious, and open is a gift to the reader.  Of course that might not always work out well.  But I show up real.  If I expect others to do the same, some will rise to the occasion.  It’s amazing how wonderful people can be, if given the chance.


I told my new friend that I have these gifts my ancestors handed to me.  Every gift has a responsibility that comes with it.  The responsibilities aren’t painful like obligations.  The responsibilities are sacred and sparkling–the inevitable flip side of the coin.  They are an honor and a joy.

Telling the truth is one of my gifts and responsibilities.  I could agonize about what a future employer might think of my truth, or I could hide my light because I know I’ll be misunderstood and used somehow.

But I’m only around a precious few years, right?  I don’t have time to fuck around.  Once already I was very close to death, when Jaguar led me back to the world of the living.

I ate a lot of rice crispies and Jolly Ranchers candies as a child, to keep me alive to this day.  My mom worked so hard to carry me, just those first nine months.  It’s the least I can do, to honor her and her mom and all the moms back through time, blood and spirit.  My survival is a miracle, and what better way to celebrate than to do what I’m here to do.

humans disabled by capitalism

My elder housemate who thinks a lot about big ideas, patterns, systems, and the organization of cultures mentioned during the skillshare: he disagrees about capitalism.  He thinks capitalism isn’t the problem– there’s a problem with humans, and capitalism just amplifies it.

So I’ve been wondering–is it capitalism?  Am I really disabled by capitalism?

What is the big problem with humans?  Humans–what’s your deal?

I’ll ask next time I get the chance.  For today I’ve talked with Ming (who is a bunny more likely) and a spider.  Oh, I also talked to a housemate downstairs briefly.  Probably they are fae.

As always, I’m willing to be wrong.  Please let me know if you have good ideas about what I’m actually disabled by.  I made this art Two of Cups that I thought you might like.

two of cups

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

2 replies on “disabled by capitalism”

Hi Laura-Marie,

Once again, I really enjoy your writing and the level of self-and-environmental awareness and sensitivity that lie within and beneath it. I think, however, that my comments during your skillshare about fat liberation were poorly framed or misunderstood. As usual, there’s more to it….

Here’s a bit of that “more”: Capitalism definitely fucks with you – and with all the rest of us. It’s just that it isn’t alone in that regard. So many other economic and political systems and cultures around the world and throughout history have their own ways of marginalizing, oppressing, and even enslaving or destroying those who fit their special sense of “the Other” or “the less than human” (to say nothing of other life forms!).

To address your specific critique here: Capitalism shares a demand for rigorous, controlled work (in various forms) with communism, socialism, fascism, feudalism, colonialism, slavery, and more. Ironically, the 40 hour work week (which I, too, dislike, since I like to work longer hours but at my own pace) was actively fought for by unions in the early 20th Century and achieved under FDR, I believe, along with Social Security and many other worker benefits to remedy the labor ills of the 19th century (which replaced the slavery and indentured servitude and child labor etc that came long before). The point intended to make in my comments is that it isn’t capitalism, per se, that’s the problem. It is the materialist, extractive, domineering dynamics that keep showing up in ever-new-guises (such as capitalism) that is the problem.

And human psyches are evolved with certain gifts and limitations (see for resources about our limitations) – and then they develop (and are socialized and manipulated) in ways that lead people to participate in various ways with the cultural/systemic messing-with dynamics that we find around us – such that we fuck with ourselves, with each other, and with people and other beings we don’t even know, many of whom are far away in physical distance and time (past, present and future). Various forms of therapy and activism seek to help us get beyond or resist the trauma, internalized oppression or collaboration-with-the-system that we have gotten ourselves entangled with. But our days are still filled with the fucked-with dynamics, having their impacts on us and leading us into various collaborations we may not even be very conscious of.

So it isn’t that the problem is with capitalism OR people. The problem is with the dynamic between people’s psyches and the sick systems they/we are embedded in – the tendencies and feedback loops in that dynamic that feed on each other and amplify each other. (Yet I’m not sure “problem” is the right framing, e.g., but that inquiry takes us even further off the points you were originally trying to make…).

As usual, there’s just more.. and more… and more to it than whatever we think we (any and all of us) know… 🙂


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