I am an erstwhile liberal coming back to hardcore anarchism. I grew up in a conservative family and when I was a teen I began to read libertarian books that promoted free-market capitalism, social liberalism, and minimum government. I liked the social liberalism (cultural individualism) and the critique of government, but I grew up in a poor white family that survived on "government handouts." This led me to question free-market capitalism, and I began to advocate "voluntary socialism" instead. My conception of voluntary socialism was based on voluntary cooperatives sharing wealth and resources equitably under a minarchist government that would function as a classic nightwatchman state and/or referee. Later, I read George Woodcock's book Anarchism (1969), which inspired me so much that I could feel a burning in my temples and a swelling in my chest similar to the "burning in the bosom" that Mormons talk about. I picked it up at the local library thinking "Anarchy? How could anyone possibly justify anarchy?" My curiosity overwhelmed me and I was just blown away when I read about anarchism. Until then, I was like most people in thinking that anarchy would be a complete absurdity and impossibility. However, I still faced the problem of living in a statist, capitalist world. George Woodcock portrayed anarchism as a "dead movement" which died in 1939 at the end of the Spanish Civil War and the defeat of Catalonia by Franco's fascist forces. Looking back on the world of the 1950s, he said that the world was becoming more bureaucratic and increasingly dominated by organization men both in the capitalist West and the Eastern bloc. In the future, anarchism would be nothing more than an armchair philosophy that appealed to lonely intellectuals. Looking at the world around me, the world seemed to be dominated by hostile powers, and there were no signs of anarchist community or activity anywhere on the horizons in the conservative, rural area where I was raised. Instead, my struggle with extreme poverty combined with family pressure to join the military led me to conclude that anarchism was an interesting and desirable concept but it had no realistic chance of making a difference. I enlisted in the US Army and shipped out to Iraq, justifying it to myself by saying that every country would need a small military to defend its borders and that I would need training and skills if I were going to take the lead in fighting back against the government in my own community. Anarchism was interesting but not tenable. This turned out to be one of the worst mistakes that I could have possibly made. I became an indentured servant and property of the US government, and the blatant exercise of unmitigated power and subordination displayed in the military every single day and required of me on a regular basis utterly destroyed my psyche. Every moment in the military was a living hell. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I had dropped out of high school so I was not going to "drop out" of the military either. After my first term of service, I was completely exhausted mentally and physically so I decided not to re-enlist and received an honorable discharge. This was a good financial move, considering that I have been living on veteran's benefits ever since, but I can say that I no longer believe in minarchism and that I have never used any of the skills or training that I received in civilian life. I very much doubt that conventional military tactics would be useful for an anarchist revolution within the United States. Such training that I have received that might be useful, like basic marksmanship, infantry skills, and urban combat would be better received from private instructors. After I left the military, my experience of going to the VA hospital for treatment, living in a veteran's home, and receiving veteran's benefits, struggling with poverty, homelessness, incarceration, etc., left me feeling vulnerable and hopeless once more. In recent years, Bernie Sanders' candidacy and some of the left-leaning candidates like Jill Stein, Tulsi Gabbard, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lured me back into electoral politics, justifying it as "harm reduction," the "lesser evil," the "better enemy to face," etc. However, watching both Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders drop out of the race and endorse Joe Biden, and then seeing my state cancel the primaries, woke me up to the fact that the Democratic Party really is the graveyard of social movements and that electoral politics really is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done. What is the point of associating with a political party that promotes imperialism, statism, capitalism, militarism, patriarchy, racism, sexism, etc., thinking that you're going to vote for the more "progressive" candidates if they're just going to drop out and cancel the elections? So more recently I have been ignoring the mainstream media and the charade of electoral politics. If you want to cast a protest vote for an independent or a third-party candidate, that's your business, but it won't make any difference who you vote for. The ruling class made sure of that. Lately, I've been reading Colin Ward's Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction. I've been reading the entries in the Anarchist Library, Anarchist FAQ, etc. I read the works of Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre, Alexander Kropotkin, Leo Tolstoy, etc., when I was incarcerated. I am going back to college and taking advantage of those veteran's benefits, so I guess I am trying to discern where there is any real strategy to dismantle the state or whether it's all just utopian speculation. However, when I went to a local Democratic party meeting, they were just pushing expensive green-energy systems that most homeowners in our poor district cannot afford, an individualistic solution that does nothing to change the system which is the driving force behind climate change. They were also pushing bans on Confederate flags at the county fairgrounds. While I do not support people flying Confederate flags, which doesn't make any sense since this is a northern state that fought against the Confederacy in the civil war, so it cannot be anything other than a declaration of white supremacy, such forms of censorship are unpopular and alienate the public. Not only are Democrats not offering any real solutions to rural poverty, the crisis of family farms being wiped out by global agribusiness, the opioid crisis, budget cuts, or any of the other problems wiping out poor, rural communities, but they are just adding insult to injury. It would be more useful to take advantage of the relative freedom of expression at the county fairgrounds to sell or give away flags, t-shirts, bumper stickers, books, or zines with a different message. None of the Democrats who were pushing censorship showed up to offer a countervailing presence at the county fairgrounds. They offer a petty, feckless, non-resistance #resistance. The revolution will not be hashtagged. The future looks pretty bleak for the political system. Hopefully, this will give people an incentive and opportunity to think about ditching the political system completely. I don't claim to have any answers. I'm just a disgruntled veteran living with a disabled partner in a poor white community in the belly of the Trumpian beast. I would say it starts by breaking down the monopoly on the use of force. But Covid-19 is apparently going to bring us Big Brother whether we like it or not.