A couple of us recently traveled to Dublin to speak at the “Struggles in Common” conference organised by our good friends the Provisional University. While we were there we did a talk at the Seomra Spraoi social centre, for which we created this rather fetching poster. For this event we tried out some material which later ended up in our Rock ‘n’ Suicide article. The talk was well received and led to some really great discussions but looking back at the poster it’s apparent an important theme was lost between this talk and the subsequent article.
Political organisation in post-crisis UK
A version of this article will appear in the forthcoming issue of arranca, no. 47
The year is 1973. David Bowie, in the guise of his persona Ziggy Stardust, is on stage at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. It is the end of a hugely successful sixty-gig tour. The figure of Ziggy Stardust has deeply affected many – the cultural movement of Glam he has sparked is an important moment in loosening gender roles. Yet just before the final song of the night, ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’, Ziggy announces: “Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.”
The concepts and words used typically to describe and understand our realities are inadequate to the task of interpreting, and accompanying, those societies in movement.
It is as if the capacity to name has been trapped in a period transcended by the active life of our peoples. Many of the assumption and analyses that shaped us during the struggles of the sixties and seventies have become, to borrow a phrase from Bruadel, “long-term prisons”. Quite often, they stifle creative capacity and condemn us to reproduce what already known and has failed.
Mark Fisher makes some really important points in this interesting blog post, The Happiness of Margaret Thatcher. The stuff about ‘outrage’ – and the important role papers like the Daily Mail play in creating it – seems particularly relevant. As he says, ‘Outrage is not merely impotent, it is actively counterproductive, feeding the very enemy we claim to want to defeat.’ It engenders weariness (‘we wake up in the morning … [and ask] what are we supposed to be outraged about today?’) – and I’d say this is part of a more general class war weariness.
The following is the final section of our larger article Up We Rise: Reflections on Global Rebellion. We extract it here because it contains some arguments we’d like people to engage with and at 3,000 words it is slightly more blog (and one sitting) friendly than the original, which was written as a pamphlet:
The book is now available for free download: here. And last night Chickpea presented the Circled A radio show on Resonance 104.4fm; the show featured exerts from an interview with Brian and Keir of The Free Association and from the audio book. You can download the half-hour show here: MP3 link; OGG link.
It has become a truism to say that we must adjust our political imaginaries in the face of the economic crisis, yet the sheer scale and duration of the crisis has made this a difficult thing to do. We are already five years into the great recession and as the Eurozone teeters on the edge of collapse there seems little realistic prospect of a return to the old ‘normal’. But just as the economic situation has had waves of collapse, faux recovery and renewed crises, so the social struggles and movements thrown up in response have been through waves of intense activity followed by the dissipation of energies and then the re-emergence of struggle in new form. This wave pattern has been hard for people to get their heads around. Dissipation can seem like defeat but within the stretched-out timescale of the great recession it might just be a pregnant pause. This problem has presented itself as a sense of a lack of continuity and cohesion which has been heightened by the geographical and temporal dislocation of struggles. Huge social movements are springing up around the world but they are peaking at different times. This, plus the geographical distances involved, makes it difficult for struggles to cohere together on a global scale.
No strangers to the outer reaches of technology we have recently recorded an audio-book version of Moments of Excess, as well as an interview with Dissident Island radio show. We’ll link to both when they go live. In related matters here’s a recording of the Leeds launch of Occupy Everything: Reflections on Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere which includes a live version of the material in our previous post. All of which is just a shameless excuse to post this fantastic picture from Rome 1958. Here’s to the re-birth of Sci-Fi communism.