What is it to be a goth at election time? A winter general election certainly makes it easier. So does being a young adult who knows little other than austerity.
I’ve also never experienced an election result that went in my favour. That helps too.
I voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 — the first year I was eligible to vote — and that felt sort of good for about a month or so. But otherwise, post-election depression is a standard affair.
It’s not really the disappointment that’s the problem though — not on its own, anyway. Maybe being an election goth means there’s a way to own that disappointment and ride the wave of despair into some macabre masochistic pleasure. That’s what left melancholy is, isn’t it? Owning your defeat like it was tailor made for you to wear?
That’s the main reason I’m not an election goth though. Not by any measure. Let’s not forget what this blog is called and why. My problem is that, despite my aesthetic allegiances, I’m a perennial optimist. And that’s got nowt to do with echo chambers and confirmation bias. I’m just naturally hopeful about everything and, frankly, even after waking up at 4am this morning to see the result, I remain so.
Not for any reason. I’m of a naturally sunny disposition. I’m just infrequently mentally ill. Or bipolar maybe. Who knows. (I was laughing about this the other week. I met up with someone who met me offline first but is well-versed in these corners of the internet and, after a jovial meeting, they said they were always surprised by how cheery I was despite the more prominent online persona. “I respect the camouflage”, they said. I was glad to hear that someone gets it.)
This is why it was so odd to find myself lumped in with Nick Land’s glutinous “sipping on leftist tears” display, nuking my mentions from orbit, making Twitter an even less pleasant place to be first thing this morning. His response to shrugging it off was somewhat predictable (in that I didn’t know how to read it):
This post was already half written at that point and I post it anyway knowing that all I’m doing is risking more smug comments. But I’m not bothered. The fact is that, regardless of the result, Boris did have a shocker of a campaign. Even his media cronies struggled to get behind him as he tucked his Moggs and Cummingses out of sight and then tried to hide from the world himself. It speaks volumes that that observation would be so eagerly transformed into an excuse to gloat.
There were various tweets that followed about working class detachment, commie confirmation bias — a few of those actually — and some truly bizarre feats of logic regarding political engagement but facts don’t care about your self-satisfied feelings, dumb reply guys… Because Boris did struggle. When you’ve got even Piers Morgan laughing at your miserable minders, surely that’s not a controversial opinion? Boris’s gaffs have defined this campaign as much as Miliband’s “tuss enuss” comment. That’s quantifiable cringe, irrespective of whether people voted for it or not.
I certainly don’t feel “owned” in my perpetually surprise that people will vote for their own repression. (Figuring out why they do is Deleuze & Guattari 101.)
It makes Nick’s invocation of Gnon in response a bit odd. An insinuation of the presence of some born-again affectations on my part? A perverse expression of fondness on his? A bit of both? (The latter feels most likely.)
Either way, no matter the scenario or the ridicule, I’m happy to be in the camp that thinks hoping for a certain outcome is fine. Doing what you can to bring about that result, at the level of parliamentary politics, is fine too. It’s what you do with the result. Isn’t that the way of Gnon? The way of U/Acc? Making yourself worthy of the things that happen to you?
(Side note: I found myself revisiting this old post on Nietzschean anti-praxis and post-capitalist Will this morning which feels like it should be read as a relevant pep talk on this point above… And while we’re here: let’s just nip in the bud this weird assumption that supporting U/Acc as a framework or whatever is apolitical. Stop equating yourselves with the systems you’re trying to describe. Thinking U/Acc will somehow make you omnipotently indifferent and immanent to capital is as much a God complex as L/R varieties fall into.)
But whatever, what does it all matter right now. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an incredibly shitty result and it’s going to be a wild ride from us all from here on out, but I’m not of the mind that that weirdness just started now as of this morning. It’s familiar. The silver lining — if there is one — is that it might be UK fragmentation time. Time to revisit old patchwork drafts, maybe, and that mammoth post I never finished on Tom Nairn’s Break-Up of Britain.
Before all that though, I want to affirm the real reason I’m struggling today. It’s less because of the election, more because I’m tired and hungover.
I spent the evening at a Christmas party last night with a wonderful bunch of people who invited me down for drinks. Laura Grace Ford, Col Self, Michelle Speidel, Majed Aslam, Simon Terrill. People I first met at the Acid Communism reading group over a year ago. People who spoke about communal support constantly and did all that they could to live it and become better at it. Not performatively for the sake of appearances but because they care about their friends and their well-being and appreciate the trouble a result like this can cause.
“No one gets to isolate themselves!” was Laura’s defiant response when I merely joked about the prospect of misery-to-come on arrival last night. I was glad for it on the bus home though. Pep talks from Laura in particular are like a political tetanus shot and have been since I met her. The left undoubtedly suffered a big defeat tonight — a defeat I personally didn’t want to see — but that doesn’t change my feelings about much of anything. I feel resilient in the face of change.
The lives we want to live have been denied at the level of the state and that’s nothing new but I’ll be doing what I can do live that life all the same. It’s real Thelema hours. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” That’s what I feel like the true post-election xenogoth vibe is.