by Nadia Idle
“Real wealth is the collective capacity to produce, care and enjoy. This is Red Plenty … Red belonging is temporal and dynamic … a movement that offers unconditional care without community (it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, we will care for you anyway).” – Mark Fisher (Abandon Hope – Summer is Coming)
Hello. How are you feeling?
You. You, reading this. I’m communicating with you, my fellow human, through the page. We are separated by time and space, indeed. I don’t know who you are, or where you are right now, but I’m asking you anyway; taking an interest in you matters, because frankly: What else does?
Acid Communism. That weird and wonderful phrase. I hope it made you laugh, snigger or at least piqued your interest if you’re making its acquaintance for the first time.
Sometimes when you put two seemingly opposing things next to each other, they don’t repel one another, but form a beautiful, new synergy. Sometimes mixing colours creates new possibilities.
It is swirling the Left with the mind expanding while still in the cake tin. Can you see what you get? Come in, come in close.
Acid Communism points to a future that in the 1960s and ’70s seemed inevitable in the West, but which after 40 years of neoliberalism seems impossible. Could the Left break the ‘no alternative’ bubble of capitalist realism by unleashing post-capitalist desires? Could it be a project of building the imaginaries and capacities to unleash our freedom to live, care and enjoy?
Acid Communism is:
A lens, an approach.
A perspective, never an identity.
A way of walking the tightrope between sanity, and the freedom to be weird.
The curiosity, the left-reflective, the meditative state within a politics of solidarity.
The gentle, the kind, the open, within staunch anti-capitalism.
The energetic, the joyful, the collective connection.
Never the performance. It is about being authentic, always.
The prising open of space for the radical with sweetness
Cerebral plasticity against plastic.
The soft thanks-but-no-thanks to the pouted face, food on plate, me and my mates, desperation for likes and follows.
Transcendental and rebellious. It rises above the neoliberal bile, picking you up, above those clambering to get on the life boats while pushing others off.
The refusal to engage in a politics of exclusivity.
The response: I didn’t cause your pain. So hold my hand rather than shout at me.
What keeps me happy and moves me towards our shared horizon.
“Instead of seeking to overcome capital, we should focus on what capital must always obstruct: the collective capacity to produce, care and enjoy.” Mark Fisher, Acid Communism – Unfinished Introduction.
What are our unfulfilled desires? What are the obstacles to us living the lives we want to lead? What visions come to us in our dreams, which we shoo away, deeming them impossible?
Do you ever feel trapped? Like you can’t escape? Often you can’t tell what it is you need to escape, but a sliver within you tells you that it’s not right, this life, this day to day, this weekend, this hangover, this cycle.
Everything around you tells you it has always been this way, and will always be this way. But something else in you tells you it’s a lie. But you shut your soul down. Shhhhhhh. Get back to work.
When cynicism, depression and anxiety is so widespread we must first acknowledge that this must be structural. There are social forces that are causing so many people’s pain. If the problem is societal then it cannot be your fault and responsibility alone. The respite will not come from inside you. It will come from us acting together. From wading through this sludge and helping each other out onto the island.
Nostalgia won’t help us. We are where we are. But if you can imagine it, it can be your future.
If capitalism is a project of conscious deflation, telling us there is no way out, the Left must be a project of consciousness inflation. A politics and practice of joy and connectedness, prioritising laughter. Designing and pushing policies that make these things possible.
I always felt uneasy about hope. Then Mark Fisher gave me words to understand why. Hope is static, necessarily deflating. It lacks vibrancy, action or agency. It feels like a 1950s unhappy housewife, trapped, peering out of her net-curtains periodically, wishing something would come along to break the drudgery.
I don’t want hope. I want action. So I make it, now.
Acid Communism came to me in an organic drifty sort of way rather than as a bang on the head. In Beirut, December 2015, I was at a low point, lost, anxious and suffering from various traumas. I was morose and disheartened about life. Then I remember reading a post online about Mark Fisher’s Boring Dystopia Facebook page. Mark was thinking about getting a collective together to assemble a book on the subject, collecting pictures of broken ATMs, vending machines, CCTVs over-looking decaying streets etc. Unfiltered neoliberal reality.
I felt a pang of excitement, in that way when you sit up and your sunken body lifts. A break in my clouds. This project’s playful outlining of how we actually experienced life under late capitalism excited me. I emailed him. He got back to me and said he’d set it up soon. It never happened. Mark was taken away from us. But his ideas live on and keep resonating through conversations, workshops and parties.
Our Acid Communism work isn’t in homage to Mark. It’s more an evolution inspired by where he left off. Our politics and life experiences feed-in to this growing, mutating, body of thought and practice.
The Acid Joy Collective brings together a group of people, each involved in various projects: Acid Communism consciousness-raising workshops, our radio show #ACFM, Acid Corbynism events around Labour Party conference, parties focused on good vibes and writing.
I do this work because it’s so human. It’s opened up a real space. We laugh a lot. It’s brought me so many new friends. I didn’t realise the layers of cellophane around my mind until I started doing this.
People I meet have such nice things to say about this work, how it’s inspired them or helped them understand the world better. I never know what to say, but it makes me so happy that I’m involved in something that resonates with people. It gives me purpose and the energy to keep on fighting. It makes me feel less alone.
Acid Communism is the opposite of the Retreat Machine, which compresses us like a live dough ball, not allowing us to breathe, grow or see the light. The Machine turns you under and forces your mind and body to face inwards into a defensive state, where you can feed only on yourself.
Acid Communism is the bicarbonate, the yeast sachet in the mix. It causes the bubbling up, the doubling in size, the expansion, the inflation.
It is effervescent, light, and always playful.
It tells us the future is ours for the taking.
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