This Life

These are a couple of random thoughts that have been buzzing around my head. Part of this is the idea to maybe finish the Event Horizon trilogy – Event Horizon is the pre-event attempt to set a mood, On The Road is an analysis of how things turned out and this new piece tries to look at how we live after the event. This is tied up with the role of social centres, but tackles wider themes. Maybe we could aim to get it out for the consulta?

Anyway, the thing that started me off was Vernon God Little’s refrain of “what kind of fucken life is this?” In the book it’s almost wholly negative, but we can split this up two ways: 1) What sort of life do we want? 2) How do we live this life? They’re intimately related of course: how do we live this life in terms of survival and how do we live it in terms of the life we desire? Or to recycle a recent book, how can we take those worlds we glimpsed at Gleneagles and generalise them so that they make sense in the rest of our lives?

In the run-up to big events (like Gleneagles) there’s a real rush of energy, a coming-together. Obviously that’s all gone after the event, and too often we see recrimination and a general coming-apart. But it’s not simply how we cope with the come-down. It’s more how we do live this life and still retain all that stuff we’ve gained at the Hori-Zone for example? After the high point of Autonomia in Italy, thousands turned to drugs or cracked up, not just because of State repression but because the forms of life they had been living were no longer sustainable. The (expansive) experiments seemed to have broken down irrevocably. More, the collective body had been decomposed, so attempts to live this life reverted to the level of the individual where contradictions were, for many, too intense to handle.

This sounds like I’m suggesting a survival guide, and I guess I am, but by survival I don’t mean settling for less than life. Life and living now seem to be at the heart of political struggle. We’re constantly creating multiple forms of life, zooming off in different trajectories, in the same way that we don’t each produce a single subjectivity, but collectively produce and re-produce multiple ones, often in conflict with each other.

Something else I’ve been thinking about is the entreprenurial spirit. Before you reach for your guns, hear me out. What set me off was the final programme in the Lefties series which looked at the rise and fall of News on Sunday, a spectacularly failed attempt to have a ‘far left’ national Sunday tabloid (with a lot of the drive coming from ex-Big Flame members). They raised over £6m and one of them commented that they smashed the idea that the Left had to be poverty-stricken – they proved they were the real entrepreneurs. Obviously it’s a very loaded term but it’d be great to reclaim it. We produce wealth; and there’s nothing more ‘entreprenuerial’ than starting a band with your mates. The problem is that we find it hard to sustain this without it being expressed as money, channelled into capital’s circuits. Again we can learn from Italy and the explosion of small businesses after the collapse of Autonomia:

Of course this brings in the whole issue of ‘compromise’, and the lines we can and can’t cross. We keep stumbling across these issues at the CommonPlace in Leeds. Can we have rented social centres? Can we allow money-making events? We frown on ‘profit-making’ entreprises, but making money for charities is apparently OK (including charities who have paid workers?), as is making money to pay our landlord. What about CCTV on door? The balance of ‘political’ vs ‘social’ events?

And all that brings us back round to how we live this life. Look, I didn’t promise this post would offer any way out…

Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.