Looking for an Exit — XG for the Blue Mountain School

This is a view of psychedelia that still needs to be affirmed. It is its function, in this sense, rather than its form, that remains relevant to us today: the way it connotes the manifestation of what is deep within the mind, not simply on its surface. Capitalism is very good at this too, but it cannot be allowed to hold the monopoly on our desires. There are alternatives and they are waiting to be excavated.

I was really, really excited to be asked to contribute something to the Blue Mountain School during the first week of corona quarantine. Working on this kept me sane.

I had read David Keenan’s piece for them just a few weeks ago and quickly explored the rest of the playlists there. To have my own piece in such spectacular company gives me big imposter syndrome vibes.

Many thanks to George Hields for the invitation and I hope, once this is all over, I’ll get the chance to swing by Shoreditch to see the School in the flesh. It’s an incredibly beautiful building.

You can read the full text here.

I was tempted to do a mammoth playlist of deep cuts and weird things. Instead, “Looking for an Exit: Sonic Coordinates for Egress is a collection of written fragments, as if excavated from a life-long listening diary. It’s a short hop, skip, jump from 1966 to 2020, sketching a psychedelic line of flight from The Beatles via Led Zeppelin and D’Cruze to Lee Gamble and Nazar.

I’m very aware of the length of the jump made here, clean over the 1980s, and whilst working on this I was very tempted to take detours via Fred Frith and the Supremes and Throbbing Gristle to try and make this a more consistent journey through the songs that have made me look at the world differently but the length of the text ended up dictating to brevity of the mix.

Anyway, I think the fact it isn’t a clean genealogy is probably more fitting to the point being made. Cut through canons and do your own autopsies, particularly of pop culture because there’s so much hidden in plain sight.

As a bonus, here are a few other tracks I wanted to include but which I realised were only additional nodes to what was already a pretty concise (for me at least) argument.

Unveiling the Collective in Isolation: Thinking the Apocalypse with D.H. Lawrence — XG for Stillpoint Magazine

How do you write about an apocalypse in the midst of one? How do you affirm new connections with the people around you at a time when governments recommend “social distancing”? Perhaps there is no better time to tackle such things, if only so that, once we are on the other side of our present mess, we can begin our collective recovery and become reacquainted. Collective recoveries are never easy, however. The twentieth century demonstrated this repeatedly and relentlessly [and] it is to the early twentieth century that I have found myself returning.

I have a new essay in the April 2020 edition of Stillpoint Magazine on the theme of “Apocalypse”.

Entitled “Unveiling the Collective in Isolation: Thinking the Apocalypse with D.H. Lawrence”, it is about Lawrence’s final works, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Apocalypse, and the desire for a new form of community that bursts from within them — a kind of community that is still yet to materialise. (Or, as Stillpoint themselves introduce it: “An evocation of the potentials for a collective response to apocalyptic murmurs that defies the biblical division between the saved, and the damned.”)

I am very grateful to Anne Marie Spidahl for the invitation and editorial assistance, to David Peterka for his editorial assistance, and also to Kate Holford for reaching out and selecting a series of images from Tatiana Bondareva‘s series “Escape” to illustrate the essay. (The image below reminds me of that most famous scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which feels like the perfect bridge between Bondareva’s project and my own.)

Check out the rest of the issue and the previous work published by Stillpoint. They are a brilliant magazine and I’m excited to see what they do next!

This essay is an extension of some of the “philosophy of community” stuff that is central to Egress but it has also been written in light of my present research, which has focused on the literary modernists of the early twentieth century — including, most recently, Lawrence.

It should probably be said that the theme of this edition of the magazine was chosen long before the coronavirus took hold of the world. I’ve also been reading D.H. Lawrence’s later writings on and off since late last year. So, to be honest, it’s very surreal to me how this one came together. None of it was planned but it all feels very prescient.

This essay was initially intended as a sequel to my previous essay, “The Primal Wound”, but the connection may seem wildly tangential at best. Nevertheless, it is a snapshot of where my next book, One or Several Mothers, has taken me of late and I’m excited to be able to tell you that that book will also be coming out on Repeater Books in the future (at least once I’ve finished it.)

Watch this space for more adventures through and around the sentiment of “anti-Oedipus but pro-Antigone”… Lawrence is a particularly interesting figure in that regard. From Son & Lovers to Apocalypse, I think he passes from one to the other quite explicitly.

Kill Landlords, Smash Babylon

If there was one thing that Mark Fisher was aiming for in writing his Acid Communism, it was the reinvigoration of pop cultural potentials that were previously rife within the 1960s and 1970s.

In his introduction to the unfinished project, he discusses The Beatles expressing an anti-work ethic on “I’m Only Sleeping”, for instance, and saw this as a radical sentiment that had the potential to flick switches in the popular imagination.

Of course, the Beatles are an interesting example considering just how huge they were, but they were also a pretty soft option…

Since picking up my first one in 2013, I have developed a habit for buying reggae and dub records about how shit landlords are. Now there is a radical message smuggled inside a pop cultural phenomenon — and one that is still going strong too.

Yeah, work is bad, but hey, maybe just kill your landlord? Yeah, I get it, dancing is fun, but ever think about the abolition of private property whilst you’re doing it?

I came across a new one earlier today — the first new one for a while — so here’s a post celebrating killing landlords and smashing babylon.

Like Simon Reynolds said in his Mark Fisher memorial lecture: “‘Babylon’ is a far more powerful word than ‘neoliberalism’.”

When Things Take Time — Now Online

My somewhat knotty essay on Blanchot and time in modernism, communism and accelerationism is now available online via Diffractions Collective.

I think I wrote most of this with a fever — a common experience on a few commissions last year — and now, reading it back for the first time in about six months or something, I quite like the feverish subjective dissolution bubbling beneath the surface.

At first, I thought it was an essay that was slightly confused… Now I wonder how it could have honestly been anything but…

As Woolf would write from the depths of her novel’s templexity: “How to describe the world seen without a self? There are no words.” What an opportunity for the ever-present xenopoetics of late capitalism, for there is no time here either and, for capitalism, as for us, time is all there is.

Accelerationism and Acid Communism: Notes on Theory and Praxis

The other day I made the uncharacteristic decision to join a bunch of Mark Fisher-related Facebook groups. I don’t really use Facebook or like it very much but after some people shared posts about my book Egress in a couple places, I thought it’d be nice to say thanks and hang around their scenes for a bit.

It wasn’t long before I became embroiled in a comment thread about violent far-right Accelerationism.

I’m too far past the point of caring to claim that this violent “accelerationism” isn’t accelerationism proper. That doesn’t do anything to help anyone. But when I saw it said that Mark “wasn’t himself taken in by the right aspects of Land’s thought, neither was he particularly an accelerationist”, I felt like throwing in my two cents.

I don’t want to just rehash a Facebook debate here, however, or pour a load of scorn on someone commenting in good faith — this shouldn’t be read as being aimed at any one person — nor do I intend to “grandstand” a brief discussion by making it all one-sided.

The real reason for putting this here is that I felt something else coming through whilst I was adding a long and over-blown Facebook comment to that thread. I started to articulate something I’ve been thinking about for a while now — somewhat related to how I have never managed to connect with how Mark’s work is read and written about on Facebook — but haven’t actually managed to satisfactorily write down anywhere…

So here goes…

It’s no secret that I despair at the Jeremy Gilbert Zero Books Facebook school of Acid Communism — a sort of amorphous, transatlantic Breadtube-adjacent cottage industry that I think does a great disservice to Mark’s work rather than extending it in any meaningful sense.

The view of Mark’s work that I associate with these corners of the internet speaks to the two ways that, in my experience, it often seems to manifest:

  1. From the UK, it takes Jeremy Gilbert’s smattering of posthumous articles on Acid Communism and Acid Corbynism as being somehow representative of Mark’s planned project (instead of just being representative of Gilbert’s own under-developed ideas). [Addressed here.]
  2. From the US, it sees Acid Communism as some sort of grand political do-over at the end of Mark’s thought, taking it as an opportunity to erase the more “problematic” elements of his writings whilst injecting a sort of cultural studies malaise that I reckon Mark would have been bored to tears by. [Addressed here.]

The claim that Mark’s Acid Communism was a stride away from Accelerationism felt like an example of #2 to me — an attempt to sanitise his thought based on a misunderstanding of that thought in the first instance. This position was further clarified in the Facebook thread as being a separation between theory and praxis: Acid Communism was to be a plan of action whereas Mark’s involvement with Accelerationism was just philosophical musing. This, again, is something which I think Mark would have baulked at.

What this framing does is fall into the usual trap of conflating and separating various strands of Mark’s thinking in order to construct some relatively consistent and unproblematic vision which cherry picks and lessens the critical impact of his work on both the political left and right as it exists today.

To be clear, I think describing Acid Communism as a sort of “plan of action” is absolutely correct but to suggest that all of Mark’s prior theorising wasn’t implicitly baked inside that plan leaves his work open to precisely the sort of posthumous revisionism we’ve seen run riot across social media over the last three years. Put another way: I think Acid Communism was going to be Mark’s attempt to describe a course of (cultural) action in a way that he had not done previously (at least not in book form), but his desire to do this does not negate the importance of any of his previous theories and neologisms which would have likely found themselves brought together explicitly for the first time.

This sort of compartmentalisation has happened repeatedly within the reception of Mark’s work. Neither hauntology nor accelerationism, for instance, were formulated by Mark as plans of action. However, that has not stopped bad readings of both overwriting what was said in Mark’s texts themselves, turning them into approaches to culture and politics rather than attempts to describe tendencies within those subjects that we should try to escape from.

It has long been necessary that we learn to — as Simon Reynolds put it in his Memorial lecture — “bridge the chasm”.

Capitalist realism has notably managed to avoid this fate, which probably speaks to its absolute clarity in Mark’s thinking. The other two terms were somewhat collective coinages and this may have something to do with their persistent unruliness. It is worth emphasising here, for instance, the fact that accelerationism, in particular, was not Mark’s concept alone but he was supposedly the first to embrace Benjamin Noys’ scathing -ism and affirm it as a philosophical identity. In this sense, we can argue that Mark was probably more responsible than most for confusing the discourse around it with regards to the practical implications of its theses.

The same is true of “hauntology”. Whereas Derrida used the term to explore how Marxism haunts from beyond the grave, as a sort of positively conceived poltergeist, Mark’s use of the term — subtly different to how others were using it at the time — seemed to contain a similar sense of appropriative irony, allowing him to continue decrying the effect of postmodernism on popular culture that he’d been doing since his days at Warwick with the Ccru.

For example, in the essay “Pomophobia”, written in collaboration with Robin Mackay, Mark rails against the in-growth of hauntology within Derridean postmodernism, as a zombifying pathogen fuelling a contemporary academic impotence that was only serving to exacerbate the very haunting that Derrida was attempting to describe.

Describing this situation with an unmatched feverishness, Mark and Robin write:

Fed on the endlessly regurgitated brains of dead philosophers, post-structuralism degenerates into the spongiform Hegelianism it always-already was, proudly dwelling on its own desolate but strictly delimited ground while barely concealing its delight that we can’t escape from the narratives of modernity. Theory remains tethered to the “post”, given over to interminable rumination on what is superseded but, supposedly, never overcome. All texts are pre-texts — also post-texts — flimsy tracing papers colonially irrigated and preemptively captured by reassuringly dull, appropriately academic, subtitles. Pun colon verb definite article academic designation. “Jacquing off, Offing Jacques: Derrida, Lacan and the Self-referentiality of the Academic Subject.”

Rapid response is rendered impossible, the danger of embarrassing oneself by saying something that has not been rigorously automonitored, ruminated over for a punitively extended period of scholarly detention, is too great.

Nietzsche’s critique of the clogged digestive system of the West’s Last Men, itself often perversely interpreted as a metaphor, expresses all too acutely the constipated Eurocontinence of these constricted bodies, themselves minor fascicular elements of a resonant system of transcendental miserabilism disseminated across all levels of culture.

The dreary textocratic dribblings of post-theory are merely the transcendental idealist counterpoint to the empirical realism of postmodern culture. Kurt Cobain embodied what theory disembodies, the raging stomach pains which plagued him finding their disintensified correlate in the the chin-rubbing, brow-furrowing protocols of urbane academic anxiety. Smells like Hegelian Spirit.

Here we uncover the true dangers of Mark’s thinking — for others and for his own legacy. Like the contemporary political right, Mark had a penchant for appropriating and mutating, for his own academically perverse purposes, the terms deployed in earnest by his enemies. However, as interest around his ideas grows and the theory-curious look for Facebook group Cliff Notes, many often end up confusing Mark with those he sought to vanquish.

What must be remembered and affirmed here is that all of Mark’s most (in)famous philosophical associations — capitalist realism, hauntology and accelerationism — are attempts to describe the current circumstances within which contemporary capitalist subjects are formed and, to an extent, trapped. The lesson that the vast majority of people interested in Mark’s work have repeatedly failed to learn, however, is that to deploy these concepts and neologisms as forms of action is only to exacerbate the traps they seek to describe, just as the pomo academics did with Derrida before him. This happens as a result of people conflating these overarching concepts with other tendencies visible throughout Mark’s work.

Mark’s version of hauntology, for instance, is often explored today through the fetishisation of a late capitalist aesthetic that Mark made famous through the Facebook group “Boring Dystopia”. Mark’s attempt to wrest people from their complacency by drawing attention to the eccentricities of late capitalism — think of the world-weirding that takes place in Inception when “the dreamer becomes aware of the nature of the dream”, leading to its collapse — has instead been co-opted by the networks of communicative capitalism to simply perpetuate its arresting functioning. The zombifying pathogen that had previously infected humanities departments throughout the West, reducing cultural production to an impotent Cultural Studies, has now taken hold of Facebook groups across cyberspace.

(I have a section on this in Egress, for what it’s worth, in which I explore the way that hauntology has been reduced by many well-meaning commentators to be little more than a “hauntography”.)

Similarly, regarding the contemporary and popular understanding of accelerationism, I think the present state of the discourse is a result of the same process. It also seems to emerge from a scattershot reading of Mark’s works that conflates concepts and topics together, erasing their productive differences.

Take, for example, “Going Overground” — Mark’s much-loved post on popular modernism and The Jam. Reading it now, it sounds accelerationist — at least if you go by the typically leftist definition of what accelerationism is about and/or for. Mark writes:

The Jam, like The Who before them, drew their power from an auto-destructive paradox: they were fuelled by a frustration, a tension, a blocked energy, a jam. Discharging this tension in catharsis would destroy the very libidinal blockages on which the music depended – and this self-cancelling logic of desire reached its necessary conclusion in The Who’s smashing of their instruments.

Mark continues on this jam’s productive potential, adding:

We can apprehend yet another paradox here. What made this music culture so positive was its capacity to express negativity — a negativity that was thereby de-privatised as well as de-naturalised.

Here Mark is describing a paradox that is not contained within capitalism itself but within the capitalist subject. There is a certain reciprocity at play here, of course, but what is interesting for Mark is that, whilst capitalism itself might continue to perpetuate a paradoxical auto-destructive relationship, this has (relatively speaking) been exorcised from popular culture altogether.

Here again, the popular understanding of an Accelerationist praxis falls apart. Even if capitalism were capable of dying by its own contradictions, we haven’t been able to express our own for decades. Instead, rather than being in tune with this paradox as it exists within ourselves, we focus on other things, completely ignorant to the capitalist dreamwork of now, instead fetishising our awareness of it in the past through the very mediums that perpetuate its hold on us in the present. Again, Mark sought to draw attention to what we have lost and how we might regain it, not perpetuate a tone-deaf new age mindfulness through nostalgic psychedelic imagery.

This is to say that self-awareness itself is capitalism’s new hot property. Rather than address this, we simply demonstrate our own deficiencies.

Mark concludes, echoing this sentiment: “If popular modernism’s attempts to resolve the paradox of political commitment and consumer pleasure now seem hopelessly naive, that’s more a testament to the disavowed depressive conditions of our current moment than a dispassionate assessment of the possibilities.”

Here we must emphasise that pop modernism is a potential antidote to the crisis that accelerationism continues to describe. It is a description of one moment’s radical response to a sensation that has never gone away. It is a description of an unconscious tendency that has since been exorcised from popular culture. The problem with left-accelerationism, then and now — and, by extension, the Jeremy Gilbert Zero Books Facebook school of Acid Communism — is that it’s response to a post like “Going Overground” is less an interrogation of our current pathologies and more a rallying call for a bunch of Jam cover bands. It is YouTube essays and Facebook groups filled with inspirational posters featuring Terence McKenna quotes rather than any attempt to actually understand the paradoxes of the present and how they manifest in our political-aesthetic activities on sites like Facebook.

This is an irony shared by a lot of the violent far-right “accelerationists”. Their responses to the sensations the theory describes only demonstrates the ways in which they themselves are the subjects that accelerationism as a philosophical theory first predicted the emergence of and sought to critique. The elucidations of a thousand leftist Facebook groups only serves to demonstrate the same thing but from the other side of a political coin.

I should say that this isn’t intended to be a “wake up, sheeple” dismissal, as if I am coming to you from some privileged space of late capitalist enlightenment. It does, however, have something to do with the prevalence of a superficial ’60s aesthetics over any sort of cold rationalist self-assessment of contemporary habits and tendencies. We need to stop fetishising the aesthetics of a radical politics of the past at the expense of a cold rationalist interrogation of why the left is failing in the present.

This was why Mark still had time for Nick Land as a thinker. Land’s own pathologies are another topic for another time but his work nonetheless presents the left with a hard, cold mirror through which it might take a closer look at itself.

Mark wrote about this explicitly in his essay “Postcapitalist Desire”, in which he argues that it “is worth the left treating [Land’s] texts as something other than anti-Marxist trollbait … because they luridly expose the scale and the nature of the problems that the left now faces.” He continues by noting that they also “expose an uncomfortable contradiction between the radical left’s official commitment to revolution, and its actual tendency towards political and formal-aesthetic conservatism”. They also “assume a terrain that politics now operates on, or must operate on, if it is to be effective — a terrain in which technology is embedded into everyday life and the body; design and PR are ubiquitous; financial abstraction enjoys dominion over government; life and culture are subsumed into cyberspace…”

This is the danger of sanitising Mark’s thought of Land’s influence. Land is, in effect, the arch-realist capitalist. He watches the ways in which capitalism corrupts its subjects with glee, and the left’s impotent fetishisation of acid trips in Facebook groups becomes the embarrassing mirror image of an impotent far-right terrorism.

They are two sides of the same coin, woefully at the mercy of the forces they claim unconvincingly to attack.

The main thing to remember here, I think, is that it’s generally accepted that the course outline for Mark’s final postgraduate module at Goldsmiths — also called ‘Postcapitalist Desire’ — was to function as a testing ground for each chapter of his next book. It certainly reads that way in hindsight.

The introductory session was, essentially, a summary of the Acid Communist intro, in which Mark believed the key to a leftist future was the eradication of political melancholy through consciousness raising, popular modernism, and the speculative elucidation of a collective subject.

Week by week, he intended to explore the ways that this goal had become maligned, beginning with the central question surrounding May ‘68 — why do we desire our own oppression?

Then he was going to explore, via the technopolitical developments of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, how this project has repeatedly failed but never died, from the violent suppression of the Allende government in Chile due to its interest in a cybernetic socialism to the communicative capitalism of our present touchscreen capture. Mark intended to end up writing about accelerationism and xenofeminism, considering what they had to say about our present moment and preempt the ways that capital reappropriates all critiques against it, instead looking at how these two modes of thought, with a radical self-awareness of their own alienation, might be able to help us stay one step ahead of capital’s cooptive curve.

Unfortunately, much of the discourse around Mark’s work fails to grasp this, because much of this is still not widely known. Instead a Mark Fisher caricature traipses from thread to thread, only serving to demonstrate how ruthless capitalism is and how we — and now Mark’s thought itself — is so susceptible to its capture.

Speculative Ecologies: Plotting Through The Mesh

I have a new essay in a publication put together by Vít Bohal & Dustin Breitling, two of the wonderful folks behind Diffractions Collective and organisers of the Wyrdpatchworkshop sessions I’ve taken part in over the last two years.

The collection is called Speculative Ecologies: Plotting Through the Mesh and it’s now available to order through Littereria Pragensia, as well as Amazon in the UK and US.

Exploring contemporary strands of philosophical praxis orientated towards mapping and theorizing the notion of ‘environment’ as geological, organic and social construct. Upon this ground, it formulates the concept of ‘speculative ecology’ as a transdisciplinary form of discursive practice embedded within materiality. The acceptance of the existence and the imposing limitations of the material world functions as a point of departure for the contributors to speculate and experimentally navigate the topology of their surroundings in various, multi-tiered modalities. The main focus is placed upon exploring the integral materiality through digital projects and aesthetic production and is best encapsulated by the three overarching concepts which also create the publication’s basic thematic framework – Representations, Systems and Speculations. These three concepts provide the envelope within which a speculative form of ecological thinking might best function. The integral materialism of such a speculative ecology retains complicity with the relation of the ‘world’ and ‘figure’ insofar as it understands the material mandate of nature, and in this way tries to open space for tentative post-human design.

Featuring Louis Armand, BCAAsystem, Vít Bohal, Dustin Breitling, Paul Chaney, Matt Colquhoun, Digital Garden Lab, Jana Gridneva, Newton Harrison, Alžběta Kešnerová, Bogna Konior, Kateřina Kovářová, Tomáš Mládek, Udo Noll, P Hydrogenous, Paulo Tavares, Gry Ulstein.

My essay is called “When Things Take Time” and it is an (implicit) exploration of unconditional accelerationism, taking its lead from Maurice Blanchot’s seemingly paradoxical writings on communism, and with a splash of Virginia Woolf to boot:

As Woolf would write from the depths of her novel’s templexity: “How to describe the world seen without a self? There are no words.” What an opportunity for the ever-present xenopoetics of late capitalism, for there is no time here either and, for capitalism, as for us, time is all there is.

Mall Goth III: The Special Relationship

Really excellent follow-up to the previous ‘Mall Goth’ post here over at Totalitarian Collectivist. I’m really grateful that the previous post was taken in good spirits — it was intended as such but I was slightly anxious it would be seen as too much of an attack on Amerifriends — so I’m thankful that the yank-splaining has been embraced and further yank-splained.

I am also happy to be corrected — and rightly so — on my not so generous reading of the post-industrial American landscape and the further detail supplied here regarding the position of retro-futurism is great. It’s not something I have any personal experience of — something which evidently showed — and, in response, TC has done well to emphasize our similarities in this regard, which is great to see.

There is nothing in TC’s post I disagree with and so this is more of a blogged excuse to implore you to read it for yourself if you enjoyed my last post. Most of the references made are wholly new to me as well so I greatly appreciate the response and the reading list I’m now working through.

However, I suppose there are a few things I’d like to say that are related to the comment below which are not so much in response to what TC has said and more just me thinking aloud about them and extending them a bit because they have made me reflect a lot more on where exactly the impetus for the last post was coming from. (For what it’s worth, it was already half written before I saw TC’s post which helped me focus in on what I was trying to say better.) I liked this bit in particular:

A Duginist part of me sees Xenogothic’s claims that Britain can resist America as a call for an inward turn. The island that gave the world capitalism rediscovers its love of the land and resists the sea. To resist the corrosion of American capitalism the valorization of British truth is needed, a cultural turn to coincide with the Corbynist call to renationalize.

This picks up on the peculiar cyclone that is British politics at the moment. I was certainly aware of the irony, in the back of my mind, whilst writing the previous post, that this was a bare-faced example of the pot calling the kettle black. The last thing I wanted to do was be all high and mighty about how gross the infectiousness of American capitalism is when the UK was Patient Zero, and I do have a genuine interest regarding America’s break with European sensibilities that I’ve written a chapter on in Egress.

Nevertheless, I think this hypocrisy will always be an issue for any post-capitalist politics that grows out of this weird little island, and one that has a tendency to come across as a largely patronizing position in terms of our broader relationship to the world. This wasn’t the drive behind my last post although, in hindsight, I see there’s a danger that it might read that way. Nevertheless, TC’s extension of their own post has helped crystallize where I think the anxious undercurrent of that post came from, and that is the current backdrop of our imminent general election and our relationships with Trump’s office in particular.

Take this excellent point:

The working class may be wary of what they are being sold, but the real export of the American elite is to their brother-elites. American ideology and its valorization of power, money, and the notion of an elite at all is shared by the British elite without question (though in the question of original capitalist sin, the blame is squarely on the Brits). The grey goo of America is not just a cultural reality but economic and even if Americans are aware of it (and many are) that awareness does little to stop it.

The cultural specificity of America is made a universal through the buying and selling of what constitutes culture in every country that America touches. We may not understand but in a tragic way we don’t need to. I traveled through Europe for the first time recently and found a continent eager to speak English and sell me what it could.

The brutalizing universalism of America’s flavor of capitalism brings up the question between the possibility of communism as emerging from the global homogeny that arises through the standardizing effects of capitalism (all those juicy quotes from the manifesto about the obsolescence of family and religion) or from the specificity of culture and tradition.

I suppose this is what I was pointing to in the last point regarding the reterritorialisation of poshness on both a cultural and political level and this should have been emphasised more. It is precisely this exchange — the persistent reterritorialisation of Reaganomics on the one hand and the persistent reterritorialisation of British poshness on the other — that many rightly lament. The love-in between Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is, unfortunately, just another example of this weird connection happening across what would otherwise be a cultural gulf. And I think this is a symptom of the same universalisation that TC is writing about.

Beyond the Phoebe Waller-Bridges of this world, it is the suggestion that the NHS may be up for sale — even indirectly, through the hiking of pharmaceutical costs — that is the central charge being laid against Boris Johnson by Jeremy Corbyn throughout this year’s winter general election campaign. It is also a charge that speaks to his apparent complicity with Trump, foreshadowing a renewal of the “Special Relationship” to the levels of sycophancy that the Bush / Blair years have since been defined by in public memory — that is, a relationship in which our prime minister is little more than a neoliberal lapdog, moronically licking the toes of the world’s biggest idiot in exchange for biscuits. It is this — more than our Brexit debacle — that signifies Britain’s current attitude of protectionism, I think. Many of us don’t want the NHS opened up to a free(r) market. Many of us don’t want our politics opened up to the new brand of Trumpian electioneering. (Although it’s arguably far too late for the latter.)

This is to say that Brexit is only framed as an inward turn because those are the fears that the Tories and Brexiteers have excessively exploited among some voters. The reality is that a Boris Brexit is an emphatic return to a Thatcherist love of the free market. And “free” is, of course, the operative and implicitly Americanized word. “Free” here means “deregulated”, “reckless”, “selfish”. In this sense, as far as many Conservatives see it, the EU is not a free market at all. It’s defined by the many restrictions and rules of neoliberal bureaucracy and what they really want to do is loosen things up a bit so they can access a wider market with less restrictions and basically hitch a ride on the flows of a far more virulent American imperial-capitalism. The moral panics that have come with this are the creeping privatization of the NHS and an influx of chlorinated chicken. (An odd pairing, admittedly, but that’s what they’ve gone with.)

It is in this push-pull that the cyclonic nature of our politics finds itself encapsulated at present. The scars of former industries are not just a dystopian wasteland of past failures but also a haunting reminder of what can happen to communities and institutions when belligerent capitalists don’t get their way. They gut them. Up to now, the NHS has been a concrete ceiling — or what Land might call a ‘decelerator’ — for the capitalist class that cannot be overcome but, nevertheless, cuts have been made and contracts given over to private companies and the slow creep of a dormant Thatcherism into that crowning socialist achievement genuinely puts the fear in the people who know that any sickness could later exacerbate their enslavement to the landlord class through the imposition of an avalanche of debt.

The centrality of American capitalism, specifically, within this fear at the moment makes me think that TC is absolutely right that “the real export of the American elite is to their brother-elites.”

However, TC’s post also reminded me of that gross self-aggrandisement that the Tories were trotting out when their election campaign first started. They kept talking about how the Conservatives are the oldest political party not just in the country but in the world and that is why they can be trusted with all these things. It was this weird flip of landed gentry entitlement into “we’ve got the most experience running things” (which basically sums up the Tory conception of meritocracy).

But the Tories also want to get in with the new money. They want to get in with Trump as the new kid on the block who might be a wild card but still represents their interests. And despite the illusion of the royal family’s apparent snubs to Trump recently, the Boris/Trump (or Farage/Trump) alliance carries a foul taste that is all too reminiscent of the Epstein/Prince Andrew “special relationship”. Far more is shared between brother-elites than we could probably even imagine.

Again, TC has already said it all, but it bears repeating ad nauseum. Especially today.

If you’re in the UK, get outside and vote Labour.

Wild West Communications

S/O @great_old_ones_ for sharing this new interview with Grimes conducted by Lana Del Rey and Brit Marling.

They said that this comment from Lana Del Rey was “very xenogothic” — which is not a charge I ever thought I’d hear but, tbh, I’ll take it:

GRIMES: I was reading yesterday about outrage culture, and for just about every emotionally loaded word that’s in a tweet, the tweet gets 15 percent more interaction. We live in this weird time where we didn’t evolve to engage with this many people, and we didn’t evolve to be observed as much as we’re being observed, or to observe other people as much as we’re observing them. No one is considering the psychological impact of all this crazy technology. Especially since Trump was elected, this is the first time that the general public is fully on the internet. Grandma is on the internet.

DEL REY: I think about that all the time. It’s important to say it out loud. It’s a little bit like the Wild West again in the way that we are learning how to deal with each other on a mass level and an instant, interconnected level. I’ve been trying to create my own blueprint. It’s like, how do you fit into the culture and still live your own life the way you authentically would?

I’ve got a whole chapter in Egress about Deleuze and the radicality of the Wild West — an old blog series obsessively polished into something I’m really proud of. (It’s my favourite chapter, I think.)

The Wild West is obviously often invoked as a period of anarchic chaos — and I think that’s what Del Rey is referring to here — but it does also sound like she’s saying the Wild West itself was an moment when the denizens of a not-yet-United States had to learn how to deal with and communicate with each other on a new mass level.

Deleuze’s argument was that this frontier process, which was never meant to be closed, was forced into a recoding of European bourgeois attitudes. It’s radical potentials were snuffed out by the iron fist of a European capitalist subjectivity and, over the centuries since, the US has defined itself by its addition to its hallucinations of the worst of us.

The Wild West of the web is interesting, in comparison, because it has undergone a similar process. Just before the internet is recoded into an platform-based image that mirrors the geographic constitution of the United States, with quasi-feudal rent controls defining how we now access its information, people are fighting to break it apart again. Like the US, it has been subjected to a kind of capitalist osteotomy, with nation-states fighting to try and curtail the sprawling nature of the internet’s arachnid namesake.

The instantiation of something like Facebook seemed to show that this recoding of communicative capitalism would win again with ease but, as time goes on, it seems like resistance to this is building once again.

The political right continues to lead this recoding. Like the oil barons of old, they champion the freedom of the emerging market the developing web and how it allows them to do and say what they want, whilst implementing the structures to keep it working in their favour. (It’s the same ingrown logic of championing the freedom of the American Dream — America as a land of opportunity — whilst building border walls.) The political left calls the right out for this, speaking to freedoms for all, all the while recoding the landscape according to a bourgeois propriety and moralism.

Fittingly, considering Lana Del Rey’s current album cycle, we might say that this is something that Norman Rockwell arguably dramatised most memorably in his Four Freedoms paintings.

But Rockwell was also regionalist and that often maligned art movement, at its best, is the death rattle of the Wild West’s patchwork sense of itself. It is with him the dream died. Lana Del Rey seems to be tapping into something on her latest album that understands that implicitly…

I might return to this topic soon, once I get the book draft I’m currently working on out of my system.

There is a post on regionalism that has been languishing in my drafts for months now and Lana Del Rey’s latest feels particularly appropriate to this. As is the political line over here in the UK, there are pockets of past potentials reemerging in the US as well, albeit to a far lesser extent.

Del Rey’s half-baked nostalgia seemed to want to tap into something like this when she emerged on the music blogs of the 2000s with “Video Games” being an anachronistic anthem for the Americana hipster, but her album Norman Fucking Rockwell seems to have finally managed to escape this…

I hope it has anyway… I’m yet to give it much of my attention… But I’ve been intrigued by what I’ve heard…

I’ve still kept it at a distance though. I can’t express how much I hated her debut.

A New Jerusalem: Laura Grace Ford on William Blake

It seems that Laura Grace Ford will always find an opportunity for a dérive, even when she’s standing still.

Last night, on 28th November 2019 — William Blake’s 262nd birthday — Laura discussed the poet and painter’s work in an explorative and wonderfully meandering talk to coincide with Tate Britain’s current exhibition and a conference focusing on Blake’s artistic legacy and body of work.

Laura described Blake as “spectral force”, exceedingly relevant to the city of London today. She focused, at first, on his poem written about the city, noting how, in its original graphic form, it takes on a “sociogeographic” sensibility — not psychogeographic, all too concerned with the affects of a landscape on the individual, but sociogeographic in the sense that Blake’s poems fold and unfold the city’s “psychic infrastructure”, in much the same way that Laura hopes to do with her own walking practice.

The influence of Mark Fisher on Laura’s thinking last night was palpable and beautifully put to use in a way that did not simply reference his writings but put his ideas to use and take them on a walk elsewhere. I was struck by her descriptions of a weird London, where “the edge of the city is folded in” constituting a “liminal centre”.

For Laura, Blake foreshadows many of the diagnoses that Fisher made his name articulating. He foresaw “our contemporary psychic binding” so effectively that to read his poetry is to feel like he is still writing for a “people-to-come” — not us but a people still beyond on a postcapitalist horizon.

In light of this, Laura noted how Blake’s most famous poem, Jerusalem, the anthem for a million Women’s Institute meetings around the country, is not some ode to the Christian daydreams of suburban mundanity but a call for the sacred. Jerusalem, in Blake’s poem, is a city-to-come, a city to be built among “dark Satanic mills”. His Jerusalem is an emptied Christian signifier for a newly collective city experience, a city of the sacred.

The sacred here is undoubtedly the Bataillean kind — his term for that ecstatic experience that explodes outwards from the everyday. The sacred, however, is not an individualised experience. It always occurs, for Bataille, through the collective. This understanding transforms Jerusalem, as Laura explained, “into a commons.” She described how Blake “was violently against the Enlightenment concept of the individual” and so Jerusalem becomes Blake’s term for “an England of collective joy”, accessible through the deployment of his “early capitalist counter-sorcery”.

Laura went on to invoke Mark Fisher’s essay “Baroque Sunbursts”, and particularly its endlessly evocative conclusion:

‘From time to time’, writes Fredric Jameson in Valences of the Dialectic, ‘like a diseased eyeball in which disturbing flashes of light are perceived or like those baroque sunbursts in which rays of from another world suddenly break into this one, we are reminded that Utopia exists and that other systems, other spaces are still possible.’ This psychedelic imagery seems especially apposite for the ‘energy flash’ of rave, which now seems like a memory bleeding through from a mind that is not ours. In fact, the memories come from ourselves as we once were: a group consciousness that waits in the virtual future not only in the actual past. So it is perhaps better to see the other possibilities that these baroque sunbursts illuminate not as some distant Utopia, but as a carnival that is achingly proximate, a spectre haunting even — especially — the most miserably de-socialised spaces.

For Laura, in line with this, rave is Jerusalem, as are the impositions of Extinction Rebellion that pry open the psychocapitalist infrastructure of this city and others like it.

I was intrigued by these references and the renewed importance of collectivity to Laura’s practice in this context and wondered how these elements could come together anew.

Describing walking through London “as an experience of sensory derangement”, she emphasised the importance of walking to her own creative practices and the practices of others — most psychedelically noting De Quincy’s London as an opioid labyrinth. But drugs are not an escape from the binds of the city. (Mark knew that well.) It is having the right to roam that is most central to an expansion of collective consciousness. She described how walking, for Blake in particular, seemed to be “a prerequisite for visions”. Mind and body must be able to share in that exercise of exploration.

I started to think about the Kinder mass trespass and the mass trespasses of rave across the Home Counties, propelled by the gravitational slingshot newly provided by the M25 Orbital. Extinction Rebellion’s more recent trespasses have, instead, repeatedly provoked controversy. Trespassing is for hopping country fences and occupying sites of natural beauty to make them accessible for all. Extinction Rebellion are fighting for the same thing but to walk through the city to fight for it has ruffled many feathers.

I tried to ask a question about this during the Q&A but garbled it. Laura was gracious enough to try and respond to my half-baked musing anyway. I suppose I was left wondering: To what extent are communal walking practices — collective aphertopic dérives — still possible? Is a mass dérive still a mass dérive if it has to be sanctioned by permit? Is trespassing still a viable political act? The die-ins and sit-ins of recent decades have certainly helped raise awareness of issues but I wonder if the necessity of staying still, even feigning death, is a sign of the times.

The squats have gone. Westminster protests seem ineffective. Laura’s call for the collective — itself chiming with a chorus of other voices who have recently placed the possibility of the communal above all else — is all the more necessary now because the movements through which we are able to enact it have been been stultified without us knowing. We must make room again for Blake’s people-to-come, referred to by Laura via Deleuze and Guattari. Perhaps we also need a new kind of unlawful “assemblage”, again in a Deleuzian sense — not a non-sanctioned gathering but an ontological grounding of fluidity, exchangeability and multiplicity — the very sort of collective becoming that the infrastructure of the city itself has been constructed to arrest.

The Corbyn Continuum

I’ve been holding my breath since the UK general election was announced, waiting for the next trickle of “Acid Corbynism” op-eds, calling for a supposedly Fisherian radical politics for the left, and I realised recently what it was for me that stunk about Acid Corbynism’s initial emergence.

My main issue with “the left-wing ideology you can rave to” was that it seemed to think itself backwards. (Or it has so far presented itself backwards, anyway, perhaps inadvertently, in a succession of inconsistent articles.) It has so far come across as a burgeoning left-wing sub-ideology that chooses to incorporate the politics of rave, rather than be a politics of rave that extends itself into a contemporary desire for a new democratic socialism.

It has, unfortunately, in the hands of Jeremy Gilbert, all felt a bit “boomerish”, betraying a woeful disconnection to the social spaces he was trying to champion. Well-meaning, no doubt, but counter-productive in being so out of touch. In all the initial essays about it, it was too much middle class yoga morning, with next to nothing said about the cultural developments of the present moment beyond “Corbyn and yoga are good for you”.

A politics of rave that extends itself into a contemporary desire for a new democratic socialism was surely Mark Fisher’s original intention with acid communism — or at least one shade of his intent. As his essay “Baroque Sunbursts” makes clear, he saw the “acidic” side of his burgeoning politics emerging from a long history of lumpenproletariat outsideness, doing its own thing against the grain, through fetes and carnivals and raves, and he saw this as emblematic of an all too often ignored undercurrent of contemporary desires for movement building and collective subjectivity, routinely suppressed by the state for centuries. His was a call to pay closer attention to those movements and activities that have long disrupted and called into question the cloistered establishment, but also those suppressed sentiments that nonetheless continue to influence the establishment left from below.

Contrary to this, Acid Corbynism’s off vibe has been — despite what it says about itself — to influence culture from the top down, “discussing ways in which a Corbyn project can engender new forms of collective consciousness informed by countercultural projects of the past”, as it was initially described in The Independent, falling into that classic hippie trap of patronising middle class cultural constructivism by going back to the ’60s and ’70s and largely ignoring everything that has happened since.

More specifically, it seems to ignore the countercultural projects of the present where such potentials as those they’re pointing to are already being enacted. This is to say that Corbyn isn’t simply an opportunity for reflection. He’s a symptom of something new in his own right. Acid Corbynism has so far been a bit of a weak diagnosis of what that is. Instead, we are presented with an apparently representative image of a sort of cringe mod revival micro Butlins corporate Dad weekender…

As a result of all this, in most appraisals I’ve seen that come from outside the camp putting out infrequent Acid Corbynite content, Acid Corbynism comes off as a product of London lefty cringe. It’s hard to disagree with that when you look over the majority of the content put out under its name. However, with the election on the horizon, and with my own retweet habits becoming increasingly Corbynistic as the weeks roll on, I’m left wanting to offer up a more generous reading; an avenue that might inject this provocatively empty ideological vessel with some substance. I’d like to call it the Corbyn Continuum.

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most attractive qualities amongst his supporters is his political consistency. Any aspersions cast upon his character by detractors are often batted away with documentation of his political activism and voting record, finding him to be on the “right side of history” for decades. He’s not some post-Soviet tyrannical Marxist hangover, as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump want the country to think, but a principled man who has consistently stood against the policies of a deepening culture of neoliberalism since 1983. Whether protesting Apartheid, the War in Iraq or contemporary austerity, he has always been a supporter of the downtrodden, the powerless and the under-represented.

What he represents today, then, for so many, is a leftist continuum that has been smothered by neoliberalism for decades. He’s proof that the left weren’t all collectively insane and melancholic post-Thatcher. They simply didn’t have a democratic representative. Years were lost to Blairite centrism as a radical left went underground, and this dip below the political waterline notably occurred in tandem with rave’s own sociopolitical smothering. But, just as hardcore never died, neither have the principled politics of Jeremy Corbyn.

This is to say that Corbyn gives this intergenerational confluence of lost leftists a voice. He represents an always present but consistently undermined current of political energy that has never before had a democratic outlet. (Whether or not it has been looking for one is a separate issue.)

In this sense, Corbyn starts to resemble something of a post-rave candidate for Britain’s political left, and if there is any desirable instantiation of an Acid Corbynism, I think it has to be one that recognises the resonance between the Corbyn Continuum and the Hardcore Continuum.

Here we might turn to Simon Reynolds’ 1990s series of essays on ‘Ardkore for The Wire in which he defines the hardcore continuum as rave’s persistent channelling of a working class political disenfranchisement and a politically smothered collective subject:

Ardkore is really just the latest twist on the traditional contours of working class leisure, the latest variant on the sulphate-fuelled 60 Hour Weekend of mod and Northern Soul lore. With Ardkore, the proletarian culture of consolation has become a culture of concussion: hence amnesiac/anaesthetic slang terms for a desirable state of oblivion such as “sledged” (as in “sledge hammered”), “mashed up”, “cabbaged”, “monged”, and song titles like “Blackout” and “Hypnoblast”.

There’s a sampled slice of rap at large in Ardkore that goes: “Can’t beat the system/Go with the flow”. On one level, it’s just a boast about how much damage the sound system can inflict. But perhaps there’s a submerged political resonance in there too: amidst the socio-economic deterioration of a Britain well into its second decade of one party rule, where alternatives seem unimaginable, horizons grow ever narrower, and there’s no constructive outlet for anger, what else is there left but to zone out, go with the flow, disappear?

But retreatism is just one side of the rave scene. There’s an inchoate fury in the music that comes out in an urge for total release from constraints, a lust for explosive exhilaration — captured in titles like “Hypergasm”. The Ragga chant of Xenophobia’s “Rush In The House” kicks off “E come alive! E come alive! E come alive!” Ardkore frenzy is where the somnambulist youth of Britain snap out of the living death of the 90s, and grasp a few moments of fugitive bliss. Ardkore seethes with a RAGE TO LIVE, to cram all the intensity absent from a week of drudgery into a few hours of fervour. It’s a quest to reach escape velocity. Speed-freak youth are literally running away from their problems, and who can blame them?

This might not sound like it has much in common with Corbyn the manhole-cover-loving constant gardner and parliamentary left-wing figurehead and nor is it supposed to. Corbyn isn’t some perfect embodiment of a proletarian death drive suddenly inserted into our parliamentary democracy, but he is nonetheless a vector allowing long-derided subcultural currents to rise higher within the national unconscious than they have been able to since he first entered the House of Commons.

Because, despite rave’s apparent retreatism, hardcore has never died. It has had its peaks and troughs but it has been largely consistent as a path travelled by so many over the course of dance music culture’s development, fragmenting off into new subcultures that nonetheless retain a shared sensibility of collective action and jouissance. Sinking below the production line of commodified genres has led to its continuation becoming less easy to reify and capture but, chances are, if anything has recently been described as “deconstructed club” it can be fastened onto an almost 40-year lineage of musical experimentation and collective politics. In this sense, deconstructed club is the music press’s attempt to categorise a party that kept on going, stubbornly, on rave’s own terminal beach, amongst the washed-up detritus of past political and musical failures, mudlarking for new sonic futures found amongst contorted old objects.

This new generation has seen and heard the musics of rave, perhaps appropriated and repackaged after the fact, and wonders how we ended up where we did. Compared to now, the alternatives of the rave era seemed numerous if still impotently subcultural. Corbyn, surreally, represents their future prospects within parliament but to say he is representative of these sentiments overall is a patronising misstep.

This is to say that this hauntological beach rave has not been so woefully nihilistic that it needs someone like Corbyn to galvinise it into action. Its persistence has successively held rave’s offspring back from the brink of death and it has given buoyancy to their collective politics at the same time. It is up to Corbyn to encourage their proliferation, not for these scenes to embody Corbyn-supplied political strategies. It is, after all, the parliamentary instantiation of the politics of neoliberalism that are to blame for its near-death in the first place. It is up to Corbyn to dismantle those damaging infrastructures so that these precarious embers might blossom into a new way of life.

Grime’s international popularity and alignment with Corbyn’s politics is the perfect example of how this might be done. Whilst their cross-cultural love-in might have been a tandem surprise to many, it emerged out of this kind of sociopolitical undercurrent, emboldened by a generation that is unwilling to extend the nihilism of past generations any further.

This is to say that to call Grime an Acid Corbynist UK rap scene would be deeply embarrassing for so many reasons. It is Corbyn, instead, who was, for a moment, a exo-Grime political opportunity — offering up an allegiance to be encouraged where other politicians would have shit themselves before an audience with the country’s creative youth. Corbyn, instead, recognised their frustration and offered them his support. They, in turn, offer him theirs. This wasn’t a party political strategy on their part. It was simply the Corbyn continuum in action, with the man listening to their sociopolitical frustrations and vowing to alleviate them.

There is space for Acid Corbynism to grow as an idea along these lines — and it should — but to do so it must pay better attention to its own source material in a way that allows it to overcome itself rather than becoming reified into a control value for Labour party conference tension.

Thankfully, Matt Phull and Will Stronge have already done a semi-decent job of describing Acid Corbynism’s “next steps” — which feels more like a correction of Jeremy Gilbert’s various foundational missteps in being far more explicitly aligned with Mark’s writings over his. They put aside the hippiedom that Mark was always suspicious of, instead drawing on his wider concepts of “popular modernism” and his love of Jam City. (Shout out also to Laura Grace Ford.) They write, summarising their exploration of present (rather than past) potentials:

In short, Acid Corbynist dance infrastructure is intended to be a hadron collider where ‘the new’ might flourish and where people can party. It can provide firm, practical ground upon which we can try to move on from the capitalist realist cultural impasse.

The next step is to turn the concept into a strategy; to achieve something like what we have here proposed, a politicised dance culture movement will need the collaboration of journalists, DJs, promoters, club-goers and club-owners working together to imagine better organisations of space, policy, experimentation and, of course, a good night out.

And yet here, again, the representation is still backwards. There is a sense, in all of these articles, that the intended audience is a disenfranchised “common” left, but it ends up sounding like a cultural reappraisal offered up from within the Labour party itself that seems to ignore the scenes already going from strength to strength within UK club culture more broadly.

Instead, contrary to all intention, the concept of Acid Corbynism starts to resembles a tone-deaf electioneering campaign, excavating previous strategies that have been restricted and penalised by the state infrastructure the Labour party still — regardless of who is leading it — represents.

Frankly, it ends up sounding patronising.

We should note here that Mark Fisher, the supposed inspiration for Acid Corbynism, was heavily influenced by Reynolds and he would later respond to his ‘Ardkore essays in 2009 for FactMag, describing a musical trajectory that continues to resonate, analogously, with Corbyn’s own broad appeal. He would describe the hardcore continuum as “a cybernetically self-correcting system”, pivoting between rave euphoria and its darkside. What was most notable about this for Mark was that these “recalibrations and adjustments would happen without the continuum repeating itself.”

Previous moments were neither forgotten nor reiterated, but subsumed and synthesised into new hybrids; and, rather than individual artist-geniuses, it was the collective ‘scenius’, the interaction between DJs, producers and dancers, that brought about these shifts.

There is a scenic left in the UK but to define it by Corbyn’s own personality rather than his function as a political lightning rod is to undo this sense of a collective scenius in the present, setting up boundaries for what should instead be allowed to freely overflow.

Intriguingly, Mark points to this frustration on the horizon that Acid Corbynism plays chicken with, still commenting on hardcore’s continuation into the present of 2009 in response to Reynolds’ essays on ‘ardkore. He writes:

… a generation younger than Reynolds is frustrated that it has yet to produce a music which can’t be comfortably fitted inside a theoretical framework generated nearly two decades ago. It’s a measure of the robustness of the hardcore continuum (and its theorization) that it should still be holding on after twenty years. Yet it’s also a sign of the slowing of the rate of innovation in popular music, with British dance music, once so furiously inventive, now falling prey to the conditions of entropy which have long prevailed elsewhere. If only there could be a shattering break that would definitively relegate the hardcore continuum to the past.

Today’s younger generation may not have a new “rave” but they have Corbyn, as a political figurehead from that time that looms large over the present, who hasn’t been coopted and undermined and who hasn’t become corporate fodder for lobbyists. He is uncomfortable, just as rave was and still is, and that is his power. The prospect of him being elected prime minister heralds the ultimate success of the Corbyn continuum and its ending. By exploding through its former glass ceiling, Corbyn — and, potentially, rave and the politics its represents — could overcome themselves and their position within culture and society, opening out a space for the radically new.

It is this sort of collaboration that should be encouraged, but ravers have done enough to keep their way of life hanging on by the skin of their teeth. An Acid Corbynism requires a Corbyn government prepared to listen to the communities and collectives where these politics already exist in the here and now.

This is essential because, regardless of whatever it is Acid Corbynism hopes to bring to the table, the musical and political frustrations previously described by Mark have been waning recently — not through a big subcultural-but-commercial genre moment or rave explosion but through an on- and offline scene-building.

Because things have changed since Mark wrote of his concerns for dance music in 2009. Music journalists and musicians are more politicised now than ever before and yet they are still penalised from the top-down. In many respects, Acid Corbynism seems to be preaching didactically to the converted. It is the Labour Party’s own organisers who should be taking a closer look at what is already going on around them in the scenes they are attempting to appropriate the politics of.

The worst way to respond to this would be to point to the ’60s and ’70s. To look upon that era for strategies will lead to nothing but frustration for a new generation that couldn’t give a shit about old psychedelic aesthetics and simply wants to imagine the world anew for itself. Therefore, Acid Corbynism, like the hardcore continuum it professes to celebrate, runs the risk of being a multifunctional canary in the coal mine: for both the demands of the new and the lack of innovation among the old.

An Acid Corbynism that does itself justice would bring these subcultural insights from below to the top, strategising to make rave desires into policies rather than making policies into rave desires, reversing the smothering legislation currently killing the nation’s nightlife and doing more to support cultural endeavors that many passionately seek to keep alive despite the system trying to squash them at every turn.

As such, any “Acid Corbynism” that wants to get itself off the ground must not be reduced to a rave didacticism. It should strive to be a political offshoot surfing the sine waves of the hardcore continuum that lies adjacent to it.

Update #1: This post might already be redundant with the Labour Party doing too little too late. Apparently, Grime4Corbyn will not be making a return for the 2019 general election campaign:

“The general consensus [amongst grime artists] is that they were used,” said one grime manager, who asked not to be named. “They didn’t follow up. They weren’t expecting a general election so soon, and it’s a bit late to go to the grime community now after ignoring us.”