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Book Sample, Volume One: "Paid Labor"

I wanted to put out a small, six-page sample from my latest volume, which released on Valentine's—nothing terribly long but something I feel speaks to an important topic: paying workers. 

To read a summary for the entire volume and a brief history of its construction, refer to my Valentine's blogpost. If you want to read the whole volume, simply go to my website's 1-page promo and pick up your own copy for free. While you're there, you can also learn about the other volumes, project history and logo design/promo posters!

Paid Labor: Summarizing Praxis as Something to Synthesize by Paying Workers

"America's not a country, it's just a business. Now fucking pay me."

—Jackie Cogan, Killing Them Softly (2012)

This mini-section (six pages) offers a brief repose before we dive into the rest of the volume. While the manifesto has already covered a lot, I'd like to stress the labor value of sex work as a paid means of synthesizing praxis; i.e., when preventing state abuse through sex work a valid service that should be monetarily compensated for its labor value. This includes artwork, writing and sex work as indiscrete categories illustrating mutual consent; e.g., this book and its combination of the three illustrating how intersectional solidarity works: together through a variety of creative practices that support one another through negotiated labor exchanges and boundary-forming exercises. To that, "Paid Labor" briefly discusses an important refrain to solidarized labor under sex positivity: "sex work is work," which needs to be paid, but many different kinds of work constitute sex work because Capitalism sexualizes all workers. As such, "sex work" can be summarized as collective, iconoclastic worker action against the heteronormative, settler-colonial status quo: art, porn, prostitution, writing (and intersections of these devices) when collective negotiation and expression of worker rights and boundaries happen through informed, class- and culture-conscious worker solidarity. 

To that, Gothic Communists achieve proletarian praxis through an iconoclastic recultivation of a bourgeois Superstructure: the literal teaching of emotional and Gothic intelligence (the confronting of trauma) through sex-positive sex work and art as a sheer democratization of development through worker solidarity (the state, by comparison, is not historically democratic, but serves the interests of the elite). Now that you have access to my thesis (from Volume Zero) and the manifesto as a simplified form of my thesis arguments, I want to spend the rest of the volume supplying a teaching roadmap concerning synthesis and Volume Two giving a Humanities primer concerning monsters (our so-called "booster rockets" before we fully "take off," in Volume Three).

However, before getting to those, let's summarize the role of oppositional praxis in relation to our manifesto's thesis and its execution as a fundable operation in either direction: Sex coercion happens through privatization—specifically the privatization of sexual labor (exploiting it) and emotional labor (siphoning it out of workers' heads) in canonical forms for the state's benefit; i.e., exploiting the emotionally unintelligent who surrender their labor and their rights, but also who try to own or control those around them in service to the state during crisis and decay. The historical-material result are scapegoats, fear and dogma that turn people against one another and who cannot tell friend from foe, but also who see everyone as a potential threat, in threatening places, with canonical threatening language: the ghost of the counterfeit and process of abjection's hauntologies, chronotopes, and cryptonyms. 

Meerloo once called these totalitarian tactics "menticide" and "waves of terror" in relation to thought crimes, which we briefly introduced during the manifesto but will articulate more in the roadmap (along with thought crimes/venial sins and several other germane ideas that will be useful in the navigating the primer and Volume Three). Capitalism doesn't just alienate workers from the products of their labor and from nature; it uses canon within capital, flowing money through nature to alienize either in relation to the other as hopelessly divided, blind and lost. As a consequence, workers are divided from their labor value.

The historical-material effect is reliable: destroying the material world as incumbent on nature actually being preserved by people having some connection to it to start with. Sever that through a quick, inadequate paycheck in a scarce setting and nature is a regular casualty (followed by workers, of course). Capitalism rapes the mind by constantly terrifying it in regards to deprivatized labor and nature; sex positivity is the long road back to reunion, a wending iconoclasm that starts with sexual labor (media) as a communal, intersectional, healing process that needs payment to work. There isn't some final destination where things happen "at the end"; it develops over time in active, ongoing and incremental ways that happen through iconoclastic art, general creativity and Gothic imagination; i.e., a conjoined process of rising emotional intelligence within the larger community and their artistic output, whose sexual labor and Gothic negotiating power are adequately compensated. The elite hate unions for this very reason. Without workers constantly slaving to the grind, everything stops; the money stops insofar as infinite growth is challenged by basic human needs expressed in Gothic terms.

Capitalism frames the meeting of the latter as unthinkable through worker imaginations myopically centered around elite needs during recuperated Gothic nightmares; i.e., Mark Fischer's hauntologies, or cancelled futures, blaming past worker actions for what capitalist greed always leads to: violent rebellion when enough is enough. Teach people they have rights and military urbanism won't fly.

(artist: Eugène Delacroix)

We've discussed the framing of past revolutions through Gothic canon as "terrorist" according to state interests. But however violent those in power (or with power) will mark our emancipatory attempts to be, our "breaking of church windows" is not concerned with abstract rebellions or wanton violence, but literal human thought as materially reshaping itself and the world through iconoclastic praxis: various artists, relating back and forth across space and time, in liminal, sexy-spooky ways; i.e., Gothic counterterrorist poetics. If that is "violent," then so be it. "In the absence of justice, there can be no peace." Nation-states and corporations do far worse every day through their usual monopolies as bought-and-paid for but also endorsed by the regular paying public.

Not only do our combined efforts require informed engagement with the past as hopelessly complicated when reimagined in the present; the reclaiming of artistic language and labor as already-colonized must be repeatedly conveyed and funded by those born into the present. Such persons drink up information like thirsty little sponges (some thirstier than others), which poses a problem insofar as the flow of money is concerned. History is littered with the graves of really stupid kids who dug graves for others in the bargain. From the Hitler Youth to the Khmer Rouge, to clean-cut Ike-Age kids and the Jonestown disciples, children don't discriminate in what language they acquire. This includes the language of commerce, which the children of the future must not acquire their understanding of from canon; its authors, the elite and their proponents, only manipulate and blame us for "the dismal tide" of fascism's arrival and subsequent "war on degeneracy and Modernity"—will only groom them to become not just "killer baby" soldiers, but idiotic heroes starring in "their own" productions; e.g., Ashley Williams from Army of Darkness (1992): "Impunity is the apex of privilege. I say this in regards to consumers whose Ash-worship is perpetually reinforced by spiritual successors" (source: Persephone van der Waard's "Army of Darkness: Valorizing the Idiot Hero," 2019).

There is, as usual, money behind canon's routine brain drain. Together with submissive, tokenized sex slaves, such heroes and their canonical legacy destroys the material world for profit, nature included (with us being a part of nature, including our connection to our bodies, society and the ecosystems around us). We must not only not listen to the elite; we must challenge their pedagogy's financing with our own, which they will criminalize, including our very thoughts as criminal. Otherwise, the perfect soldiers become the stuff of nightmares: automated patrol machines, walking guns and infiltrators intimated by their human-yet-dehumanized counterparts. More to the point, they currently hold the purse strings of disposable income, which behooves us to assist those who would pay us; i.e., to help them see us as human, not as sex machines that, when paid, reliably "put out" even when that wage is throttled to unlivable extremes: wage slavery and labor theft insofar as worker desperation is preyed upon by other workers with the means and mindset to do so. They think tipping is "optional[1]," especially regarding sex work (which honestly waitressing and other thankless service professions functionally are; i.e., "women's work" as a component of extended beings [those of nature] for Descartes' thinking beings [white cis-het men] to exploit).

It's true that wealth redistribution is fundamental to developing Communism, but it still requires empathy as something to recultivate through mechanisms that have become thoroughly commodified; i.e., Gothic poetics, including implements of objectification and abuse, but also recuperated voices of rebellion such as rock 'n roll. Yes, money keeps the revolutionary lights on, but stripping is not consent. In conjunction with that productive adage, blasting metal shouldn't be a shortcut to sex; i.e., the expectation of automatic sex just because Rob Zombie is blaring from the stripping stage.

To that, a constant mindfulness of intersecting factors is required. Faustian bargains are generally relayed through the acquisition of unequal power as something to display through wealth as given in bad faith; e.g., the supplying of collars and rings, but also blood money as something to recognize and weigh when choosing to accept it under theatrical conditions. So while taking payment from slavers who have you on the hip isn't a bank heist, singular payments from chudwads has, to some extent, been laundered; i.e., the latter shouldn't be discounted for what that money can go towards: something better than where it started from. This includes turning ourselves into something that accurately represents our struggles, not the desires of those enslaving us with an inadequate wage, or wages that are tossed about as a cruel (and cliché) means of reminding us that we and our bodies (and their morphological and cosmetic expressions through Gothic poetics) are somehow "owned" by those paying us; i.e., white knight syndrome through the "rescuing" of sex workers. Tips shouldn't be an excuse to make these kinds of ipso facto possessive statements; when given in good faith, they will let workers express themselves for themselves through a class- and culture-conscious mindset whose rebellious expressions and room for understanding and confronting trauma includes all oppressed workers.

The idea isn't to "rescue" sex workers at all, but make their profession safer from class traitors, not just women. So while Megan Barton-Hanson isn't technically "wrong" when she writes

There's a common assumption that all women are victims who need to be "rescued" from the sex industry, but that's not true. […] People think that women in the sex industry have no other choice, which for some people is sadly the case, but for a lot of women it's a side hustle that they do alongside uni or running a business (source: "How to Be an Ally to Sex Workers," 2022).

there's a glaring omission in terms of whom she's not including in her advocation: gender-non-conforming persons, non-white-sex workers and AMAB sex workers (e.g., trans misogyny). Betrayal isn't always done on purpose, but intent doesn't matter if a given expression leaves someone out, which Barton-Hanson pointedly does. Survival sex work needs to be acknowledged, not pushed to the side by those who have the luxury of a side hustle while going to uni or running a business (which most people lack the ability to do). Even so, it's equally vital to remember that those operating through necessity vs privilege still deserve a living wage through the labor value of their services; i.e., sex work that goes against the profit motive as something that normally accommodates women like Barton-Hanson to the detriment of more oppressed groups (instead of saying "sadly" and shrugging one's shoulders through a materially and socially superior position).

Obviously it's in our material interests to collectively reject the brutal, "blood in, blood out" of state-mandated factionalism and class traitors: cops and other such rival gangs materially incentivized by the state to make war according to money's flowing as something to dictate, and whose chicken hawk leaders endlessly recruit children for their own greedy ends tied to war (and rape) as a business. But the managing of canonized funds through reliably sanitized sources (tone-policing and whitewashing sex work) goes hand-in-hand with the utilizing of said funds for proletarian means: to teach future workers through its acquisition to be antiwar, anti-rape, and anti-state (which monopolizes sexual labor through terror, violence and bodies) according to the iconoclastic artwork we leave behind; i.e., socio-material lessons whose proletarian praxis, when synthesized and widely employed over time, sees the sex workers of the world (and by extension all workers) freed from the mental, physical and fiscal shackles of Capitalism: through a continuous, proletarian re-cultivation of the Superstructure that synthesizes praxis through habits that, when funded, are formed again and again.

(artist: Nori Noir)

Said synthesis is meant to compound and accelerate from mounting financial backing (sex work, when allowed and encouraged, tends to pay quickly and well; i.e., is always in demand from persons with the means to pay for it). This includes receiving financial support from, not just the down-and-out, but the middle class at large: petit-bourgeois revolutionaries putting their literal money where their mouths are (unlike cis-het workers who say all the things they'd like to do to us without actually dropping a dime towards the Cause; keep your ceaseless flattery and pay out, please) to foster empathy towards sex workers through daily habits that cultivate empathy as a mindset, but also a reciprocal skill; i.e., tipping. 

To conclude, paying all workers for their services is vital to revolutionary praxis because it permits and enables activism under Capitalism. Social-sexual activism happens through a liberating creativity tied to sexualized art as a form of reclaimed labor and collective, instructional worker action that materially survives after workers die; i.e., to fund, thus pass along the ability for workers—like little detectives—to sense and illustrate the "creative successes" of Gothic Communism as a paid operation. Unlike our bodies, which decay and rot, artwork doesn't have to worry about falling apart, but its labor needs to be compensated. Paint literal skeletons if you must, but you can leave behind something more than naked bones: someone who lived and worked towards the payment of workers within the system as a means of confronting state trauma when synthesizing praxis; i.e.,  in ways that humanize the entire system of exchange through Gothic poetics that, when examined by future workers, reminds them that these bones were human, thus a) deserving of a wage and b) able to use that wages' artistic results to develop Communism through Gothic poetics.

(artist: Couple of Kooks)

[1] A double standard, I should add, they would never apply to themselves; i.e., the fascist approach to rights for the white, cis-het male avenger (the middle class) scapegoating marginalized groups (often sex workers; e.g., my friend, Blxxd Bunny, getting bullied online by incels and MGTOW types) instead of attacking the system despite said system (and its owners) exploiting them. These hateful bigots see sex workers as "the real enemy" and anyone who helps them as a "simp": a person who gives money to people who don't deserve it (according to fascists) because their labor value is zero, thus literally doesn't qualify as paid work; i.e., should be given to predatory men a priori while said men are venerated as the sole breadwinners. In effect, this demonization of tippers discourages public empathy towards sex workers, but also the act of financially supporting women at all (forcing them into unpaid domestic positions; e.g., the bedroom, the kitchen, or the laundry room, etc). Not only does this lead to domestic abuse by men who treat women (or people forced to identify as women) like chattel; it lowers class consciousness to the detriment of all workers, dividing the middle class and pitting them against marginalized groups.


Persephone van der Waard is an anarcho-Communist, sex worker, genderqueer activist and Gothic ludologist. She sometimes writes reviews, Gothic analyses, and interviews for fun; or does independent research for her PhD on Metroidvania and speedrunning every now and again. She's also an erotic artist and a writer. If you're interested in her work or curious about illustrated or written commissions, please refer to her website for more information.