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Fredric Jameson described one of the impasses of postmodern culture as the inability ‘to focus our own present, as though we have become incapable of achieving aesthetic representations of our own current experience.’ The past keeps coming back because the present cannot be remembered.

Mark Fisher: Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures

It’s hard to find traction these days. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, they slip out of your grasp or melt away to nothing. So it’s easier to cling to the past. Safer, too. If you want an aesthetic representation of our own current experience, perhaps you can find it in Bake-Off, Brexit or the latest reboot from Hollywood.

The fact that the past keeps coming back seems to be part of the post-modern condition, the sense that the present is somehow broken or inaccessible. As such, it’s inescapably bound up with the logic of advanced capitalism. Neoliberal principles are being relentlessly applied to the field of art and culture, asset-stripping recent history for bite-sized chunks that can be sold back to us. It’s a vicious circle because this then feeds into a cynical (half-assed) subjectivity which is quick to embrace lazy, cut-price nostalgia – like those never-ending “Do you remember Spangles and Spacehoppers?” TV shows. This is culture as comfort-food, an oppressive regurgitation of the same pap masquerading as something different. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we’re running on the spot, fiddling while Rome burns.

But just as there’s more than one past to excavate, there’s also a different sort of looking back. Sometimes you need to reflect precisely in order to go forward. We’ve been raking over the bones of our own dead – writing about 1980s anarcho-punk for a new collection by Minor Compositions as a way of writing about the political impasse of 2016.

Like punk, anarcho-punk had a conflicted relationship with the past. While it liked to position itself as a rupture, a break with all that had gone before, there was also a clear continuity with many aspects of 1960s counterculture – something which Crass would make explicit later on. In The Kids Was Just Crass we argue that whatever the claims of any pop-cultural revolution, there can be no wiping out of the past, no Year Zero. Instead, “moments of excess open up the future precisely by reconfiguring the past, unclogging history and opening up new lines of continuity”.

Perhaps there are now other lines of continuity to explore. Anarcho-punk emerged some 35 years ago under conditions which seem eerily familiar – a rampant Tory government, a deepening economic depression, a grassroots Labour left under attack from its own party, a groundswell of racism fuelled by fears over immigration, etc – all played out against a backdrop of impending global apocalypse. The word ‘crisis’ loomed large then, just as it does now. Crisis? Yeah, sometimes it feels like we’re always living through a crisis – if not a crisis of the state, then a crisis of the economy, or a crisis of movement. But in the early 1980s it definitely felt like we were living at the fag-end of an era. And in retrospect that’s exactly how it turned out. There’s something similar about 2016, a sense that our world has been interrupted, put on hold.

In the years following the defeat of the Paris Commune, Stephane Mallarmé defined the era as inert time, a period when “a present is lacking.” That also seems fitting today: the present cannot be remembered because it barely exists. It’s hardly surprising that the past keeps coming back to haunt us as we try to work out how to step into the future.

future contain




red plenty right not to work

Pop culture has always fascinated us. Partly because popular music was the background to our lives growing up, but also because popular culture is an essential counterpoint to the (mostly) marginal political spaces we inhabit. And there’s a tension between the two. Sometimes they clash, sometimes they overlap, and sometimes – just sometimes – they pulsate together in the most incredible way, throwing new light on the past and revealing different visions of the future.

Recently we contributed to Notes From Technotopia, an exhibition in Bradford which pulls together a number of different artists who “offer different ways in which to think or dream about the future through the lens of past and present trends in technological development”. Our piece, Rediscovering Red Plenty, was prompted by our interview with F.A.L.C.O. where the singer mentioned the early ’80s Futurist Oi! band Red Plenty as an inspiration.

When a musician in 2015 makes a reference to a band from 1981, it pushes all our buttons: Gang of Four, Public Image, the Raincoats, Wire… they’ve all been cited recently. But Red Plenty? They were a band we’d vaguely heard of when we were growing up — and following punk and its various sub-genres — but had pretty much forgotten. Maybe F.A.L.C.O.’s singer stumbled over them while rifling through her dad’s record collection, but that wasn’t the whole story. Why would a record from that era resonate so much nearly 35 years later? So we decided to do some further digging.

We soon encountered a major problem: 1981 is pre-internet so there was almost nothing to see when we started googling the band. We had to switch to a more analogue route, hooking up with old mates, tracking down friends of friends, and trying to unearth people from a lifetime ago.

So here are the bare facts: as far as we can tell, Red Plenty were a four piece from Corby who produced just one four-track EP at the end of 1980 (‘Right Not To Work’, ‘Five Year Plan’, ‘Concrete Cow’, ‘New Future’). We found a few more tracks (‘We Want It All!’, ‘Assembly Line’ and ‘Ours Sincerely’) on a 1983(?) compilation tape but they don’t seem to be on vinyl anywhere.

The label ‘Futurist Oi!’ might put you in mind of something daringly experimental – like Cabaret Voltaire on speed? – but there’s nothing challenging about Red Plenty. At a time when bands like the Mekons, PIL or the Pop Group were transforming our idea of what music could do, ‘Right Not To Work’ is straight-up, formulaic guitar-bass-drums stuff: ‘street punk’ as Suzy Perry called it in the NME at the time. The lyrics are equally pedestrian: “Trouble in the factory / Trouble in the mill / Machines are taking over / We got nowhere to go…” At times they make Crass sound like a nuanced exercise in dialectics.


So why the fuss? At the start of the 1980s every school in the UK probably had half a dozen bands who sounded exactly like Red Plenty. Was Zizek Stardust just being wilfully obscure, name-dropping the most arcane bands she could think of?

Then we came across a March 1981 gig review in Melody Maker which called Red Plenty “a band for the future”. It’s a throwaway line but it set us thinking about what sort of future this band from the past might represent. Viv Albertine also touched on it in her brilliant memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, where she talks about Red Plenty trying to “escape” the monotony of New Town life.

melody maker

Like other New Towns, Corby seemed to embody the values of modernity, social progress and cosmopolitanism in the booming 1960s. But all that changed when British Steel announced plans to close the steelworks with an estimated loss of 10,000 jobs. Overnight Corby became a byword for Thatcherism and a taste of what was to come for the rest of the working class. There was anger, hurt, and protest: the town was at the centre of the 1980 national steel strike. But Thatcher refused to intervene and in the following years unemployment in the town reached 30%, bringing a whole slew of social problems which still linger today (it’s regularly listed in the top ten of worst towns to live in).

So that’s the context out which Red Plenty emerged. Steel closures, job losses, an aggressive Tory government… It all sounds eerily familiar, and perhaps that helps to explain the resonance in 2015.

footballBut there’s more. While the left were marching to save jobs, Red Plenty were singing about the right not to work. While union leaders were denouncing a heartless government for throwing people “on the scrapheap”, Red Plenty were confidently celebrating a life against work. On ‘Five Year Plan’ they chant “Five year plan / Five year plan / We don’t want to work / Let the robots do it” (bizarrely it was a cry that seems to have been taken up at Corby Town FC matches, presumably by Red Plenty and their mates). When you set that against recent books by the likes of Paul Mason, Nick Dyer-Witheford, and Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams, Red Plenty begin to appear utterly contemporary.

Rediscovering Red Plenty isn’t (just) about revealing a hidden history, the explosive promise of the post-punk era. It’s about the way Red Plenty reveal the promise of a different timeline, another history we could have lived through. At certain points, the possibilities of a non-capitalist life become blindingly obvious to a lot of people at the same time. Our horizons shift. As mass unemployment started to bite in the early 1980s, it felt like there was another, better world just out of reach. Thirty five years later, there’s something similar hanging in the air.

Maybe the lesson we learn from the story of Red Plenty is a very simple one: sometimes you have to go back before you can go forward.



image from Hans Eijkelboom’s People of the Twenty-First Century
[Race] is very real. It’s real in the same way that Wednesday is real. But it’s also made up in the same way that Wednesday is made up.

The above quote is lifted from a brilliant talk by Brian Jones (no, not that one…), subsequently reprinted in Jacobin magazine. Demolishing the ‘common-sense’ view of race, he dates its invention as a category to the 17th century: “If human history were a two hundred page book, ‘race’ begins on the last line of the last sentence of the last page.” It’s a really useful perspective for wading through the fallout over Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith. And it’s probably a good tool for thinking through the various debates around identitarian politics. But I think its relevance is even wider. When Jones talks about Wednesday – something that is horribly real and at the same time utterly fictive – he could just as easily be talking about the way that money works.

In A Grammar of the Multitude, Paolo Virno explains why money is a ‘real abstraction’: “Money, in fact, embodies, makes real, one of the cardinal principles of human thought: the idea of equivalency. This idea, which is in itself utterly abstract, acquires a concrete existence, even jingles inside a wallet. A thought becoming a thing: here is what a real abstraction is.”

Two things strike me about this “thought becoming a thing”. The first is that it is not necessarily limited to the moment of commodity exchange (even if that has a special significance). As sentient, self-aware beings, we always operate with a narrative which explains our place in the world and, more importantly, allows us to imagine the lives of others. Without that abstraction, we’d be trapped in a solipsistic and brutish nightmare and there could be no ‘society’.

Most of the time these enabling narratives happen behind our back – we’re not really aware of the presuppositions we cart around with us. And they are rooted in material circumstances: the conceptions of the world available to a peasant in feudal times are very different to those we might imagine today. But the most important point about these narratives is that they have a material significance. They become thing-like. They are horribly real, just as Wednesday is horribly real (half-day closing and all that).

And this is the second point: these thoughts become things by means of repetition. The narrative becomes real by virtue of the fact that we do things over and over until it feels like they are hard-wired into our bodies. Wednesday becomes Wednesday only because I get up and go to work. Thinking of money as an equivalent is not enough: we have to act as if it is in order for it to become so.

When we struggle for a different world, we usually picture ourselves struggling against the forces of reaction: the capitalist class, religious leaders, the police and so on. But because capital is nothing but a social relation, we’re also fighting ourselves. Or rather we’re fighting against what we did yesterday, and what our parents did, and their parents before them – “the tradition of all dead generations” as The 18th Brumaire puts it. We are grappling with ghosts.

Right at the start of his talk, Jones provides this neat summary:

The whole idea of this talk — if you take away nothing else — is this: the whole thing is made up. That’s it. And you can make it up different ways; and people have and do. And it changes…

And that really is it. The whole thing is made up. So how do we change the story, make it up in a different way, so that the world gets made again?


Every action has the status and the mannerisms of a quotation.
Paolo Virno, Déjà Vu and the End of History

I’ve been meaning to follow up on Keir’s post about the “explosion of sincerity” for weeks now, so here are some threads I’m trying to pull together…

In Déjà Vu and the End of History Virno talks about how we appear to be living through an era of hyper-historicity, trapped in a pattern of permanently recycling and reworking everything. On a superficial level we can point to the ceaseless cultural regurgitation that’s symptomatic of postmodernism: from Mad Max to TFI Friday to this bollocks, there’s no end to retromania (and if I tried harder, I could probably think of something that’s actually a re-make of a re-make). But Virno also makes reference to the Society of the Spectacle, the idea that we collect our own lives while they are passing: the present is duplicated as the spectacle of the present and we end up watching ourselves live. This has real consequences. As Virno puts it:

The state of mind correlated to déjà vu is that typical of those set on watching themselves live. This means apathy, fatalism, and indifference to a future that seems prescribed even down to the last detail.

Years ago I can remember Crass singing “Big Brother ain’t watching you mate, you’re fucking watching him!” At the time I thought it was prescient, predicting the switch from the Panopticon to TV as a system of control, but now it feels antiquated. Yes, neoliberalism unleashed whole new levels of surveillance and micro-management, but those rules have been internalised, incorporated (increasingly written into our bodies). It’s not that we’re watching Big Brother – we’re watching ourselves.

It’s easy to read this hyper-self-awareness as an inevitable outcome of the digital age: an existence played out on social media is almost the very definition of watching yourself live. But it’s probably more accurate to see this as part of a wider metropolitan, post-modern subjectivity. Or at least that’s what I get from Virno’s talk of a “mannered life”. And that mannered life, in turn, is bound up with a hyper-historicity, a sense that both the future and the past have been collapsed into a never-ending “now”.

What the fuck has this got to do with political organisation? Well, the idea of a never-ending “now”, one without meaningful past or future, was elsewhere expressed as the “end of history”: the notion that capitalist liberal democracy represented the endpoint of political evolution. There Is No Alternative. And the crucial thing about TINA was that we weren’t ever required to believe it. We didn’t have to follow Thatcher, or Reagan or any neoliberal ideologues. Because the end of history also meant the end of ideology. TINA was not an article of faith, in that sense. Instead we would come to incorporate it in the material of our daily lives just by acting as if there was no alternative. Job done.

The end of history theory was always bullshit, of course. Intellectually, it made no sense. But politically it became kind of self-fulfilling. And it still captures a lot of the impasse we find ourselves in today, eight years after the worst crisis in capitalist history. On the face of it, you’d expect a massive increase in social unrest in the aftermath of 2007-08. And yet that hasn’t happened, certainly not in the UK and hardly at all in the rest of Europe. Sure, Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain are both hinting at a different way of articulating the relationship between social movements and electoral politics, but they still appear exceptional: nowhere have we really seen the kind of sustained civil conflict that our bosses feared. On the other hand, there’s no shortage of “apathy, fatalism, and indifference to a future that seems prescribed even down to the last detail”.

At our comedy talk in Leicester we tried to think this through by talking about the “hyper-ironisation” of contemporary culture. We suggested that one way we protect ourselves against heightened levels of risk is by adopting a posture of cynical irony. We don’t invest too much of ourselves in anything (or when we do, we reserve the right to say “Ah well, it’s all shit anyway” if things don’t work out as planned). In Leicester we started to use ‘hipster culture’ as a kind of shorthand for this. It’s an easy target precisely because that Hoxton-beard-skinnyjeans-fixie cliche is a near-pastiche of this modern sensibility (and one that’s always been open to ridicule). But it’s more important to see this posture of cynical irony as a default position for almost anyone wanting to get by in the modern world. It’s a stance which isn’t restricted to a particular subculture, lifestyle or generation. As the writer David Foster Wallace put it:

lazy cynicism has replaced thoughtful convictions as the mark of an educated worldview

While lazy cynicism offers some protection against the fragility of modern life, it does so by eliminating the possibility of things like ‘conviction’ and ‘commitment’. It makes sincere statements of belief both hard to express and difficult to take seriously. It militates against developing any kind of revolutionary subjectivity.

But as we know, history doesn’t simply end. Every now and then, the past and the future that were meant to be off-limits get thrust centre-stage and people start to build different worlds. The global social movements of 2011 that were sparked by the Arab Spring are a prime example. Lazy cynicism gave way to something else – “an explosion of sincerity”.

We mean it, maaan!

Maybe the meaning of sincerity here is obvious: it’s the opposite of a cynicism that can take many forms, from a weary knowingness to nihilistic detachment. But it might also be useful to counterpose sincerity to two other values: authenticity and truth.

If our mode of existence is so mannered and studied, perhaps what we should be striving for is some form of authenticity as a way out. After all, what could be more sincere than expressing ‘the real me’? But we should tread carefully here. The injunction to “be yourself”, to become what it means to be truly you, is a central part of the modern neoliberal narrative. And neoliberalism prides itself on its ability to accommodate virtually every identity: step right up, there’s a pigeonhole for everyone (at the right price, of course). That taxonomic impulse simply reinforces our permanently heightened sense of self-awareness, further entangling us in regimes of vigilance and (self-) policing. A mannered life is one where we’re watching ourselves, watching others, forever checking… There’s also an individualising dynamic at work here – I’m only trying to find ‘the real me’ not ‘the real us’ – which undercuts attempts to create new forms of collectivity. At worst, it results in the kind of shopping-list identity politics which first emerged in the mid-1980s, or the race-to-the-bottom of privilege-checking.

On the other hand, if the dominant mode of being in the world is based on artifice, perhaps explosions of sincerity are bound up with truth. You don’t have to believe in the “wake up sheeple!” nonsense to see that some element of this seemed to be at work in the Occupy phenomenon. The idea of “the 1%” can be seen as a ‘hidden transcript’ which went public, creating the space for people to question power and begin to act out different conceptions of the world. The problem with this perspective is that hidden transcripts are caught up within the common sense of the world where they arise. They arrive with loads of baggage. The idea that there is a truth out there seems to fall into the same essentialist trap as the search for authenticity: both are more interested in the destination than the journey. (In fairness, you could argue that something similar lurks behind Virno’s claim that our actions appear as quotations – as if we just need to release them from the air quotes that enclose them. I actually think there’s more to Virno’s formulation than this, but whatever).

I’m going to stop here before I lose the thread completely. But I need to make one more note to self. When Virno talks about the hyper-historicity of modern life, he refers to “the excess of memory” and quotes Nietzsche’s aphorism that “all action requires forgetting”. In that sense, all meaningful action is a leap in the dark. Perhaps sincerity is a way of preparing ourselves for that. Those social movements which exploded in 2011 are not about authenticity or truth (which are both about correctness). Instead they are more to do with a certain openness: of mind, but also an openness of spirit, of heart. “We should talk of love not just capital”. Sincerity here indicates something like honesty and a willingness to let go (and in the act of letting go, to find new selves).



wolfie smith

I was planning to post this along with the notes from our recent talk on comedy, but Keir beat me to it. Timing is everything, apparently…

It’s the third section of that talk – the one on the hyper-ironisation of contemporary culture – that’s been nagging away at me. In one sense it feels self-evidently true: the hollow laughter of the cynic has largely taken the place of meaningful political action. Bantz, trolling, 4chan, doing it for the lulz… And it’s not hard to understand why when the times we live in are beyond satire.

But we need to unpack this a little more. Keir talks about the posture of cynical irony as a “mode of protection against risk” and I think there is a link to the collapse of collectivity. Over the last thirty years the deterritorialising impulse in capitalism has run riot: virtually everything that is solid has melted into air (or been melted down for cash). In the face of such enormous dislocation, holding fast to anything is suicidal. It’s easier and safer to let go of all certainties and try to go with the flow, even though that means losing our collective grip on what’s going on. It’s a vicious circle: we lose power, we’re atomised, we lose the capacity to act…

Collective depression is the result of the ruling class project of resubordination. For some time now, we have increasingly accepted the idea that we are not the kind of people who can act.

Cynicism is one way to deal with the idea that we are incapable of acting collectively and changing our world. It’s one way of dealing with the historic experience of defeat (even if we don’t see it in those terms). It’s a retreat. But being a full-time cynic is exhausting and ironically demands an impossible level of commitment. Like ‘cool’, irony offers the user a little armour and so functions in a way to make the cynicism more palatable.

In some sense then, this pose of cynical irony can be understood as a sort of psychic survival strategy. It’s a matter of ‘getting by’. But of course it has pretty lethal consequences for any collective project to change the world. It’s utterly bound up with an individualist perspective, one that fits perfectly into neoliberalism’s denial of society and collective agency. It’s Portlandia versus Citizen Smith

It’s important to recognise that this isn’t just about a change in the way we see the world, as if we could somehow ‘snap out of it’ by undertaking mass CBT and so start to see things differently (that would be just another variant on ‘magical voluntarism’, the idea that it is within our individual power to be whatever we want to be). There are material foundations to this. For all its talk of freedom, neoliberalism is a regime of regulation, and the last thirty years have seen a growth in managerialism, bureaucracy and surveillance. That culture of monitoring has tangible effects on the modes of political expression and action that are available to us. If you commit to a position, you have to be prepared to face a shit-storm on Twitter (or worse). If you declare yourself a ‘feminist’, you risk being outed as a TERF. The end result of course is a sort of paralysis, an impotence – which takes us right back to the experience of defeat.

How do we get out of this mess? Fuck knows, but did you hear the one about the Englishman, the Welshman and the Irishman…

old papers

What we have lost, it can often seem, is the very possibility of loss. Digital archiving means that the fugitive evanescence that long ago used to characterise, for instance, the watching of television programmes – seen once, and then only remembered – has disappeared.
Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life

I’ve been catching up with Mark Fisher’s latest collection and have been really struck by what he says about loss – or rather the loss of loss. I’m tempted to start banging on about Pogle’s Wood (a prime example of ‘fugitive evanescence’, in my life at least), but this sense of loss goes a lot further than TV programmes.

Like a lot of people I know, I’ve got 30 years of radical ephemera stored under my bed (see photo above). But these days if I want to dig something out, it’s usually quicker (and cleaner) to go straight to Google rather than sift through a dozen boxes full of dusty scraps of paper. And I think this has consequences – both in the material world (see the recent demise of schnews) and in the subjectivities we reproduce.

OK, I might be biased because I work in print design, but I think there’s still something special about the printed product: leaflets, flyers, magazines, newspapers, books…. Because these things are tangible objects, you have to engage with them in a quite different way from, say, something that falls into your inbox or pops up on your Facebook or Twitter. It might be a newspaper you bought, or a leaflet you picked up, or even an actual book in analogue format, but the way you relate to it will be qualitatively different from something that flashes across your smartphone. This shift in sensibility is, if anything, even more marked in music. In our house, I find that music is ‘on’ most of the time yet it’s the very opposite of the immersive experience I would have enjoyed thirty years ago. It starts to become seamless, muzak-like.

Here’s Fisher again, on a digital world where everything is always available, always on.

If anything is the signature of 21st century consumer culture, it is this feeling of a digitally upgraded normality – a perverse yet ultra-banal normality, from which all flaws have been erased.

Perhaps this links to a criticism a friend made of this blog. I’m paraphrasing but I think the gist was that our posts tend to be too crafted, too considered, too ‘perfect’. That threw me for a bit but I think what it means is this. The glossy interface of digital life doesn’t seem to leave room for mistakes, blemishes or stains. And it’s precisely those things which we need in order to get a purchase on something. The imperfections, the grubby in-between-places are where we can make our home. That’s where we find ourselves and find others.

How does all that relate to the stack of crap under my bed? Fisher once more:

Cultural time has folded back on itself, and the impression of linear development has given way to a strange simultaneity.

That idea of linear development was always a myth (as if A would always lead to B and then to C), but there was still a sense of history piling up under our beds, on our walls, in our bodies. The newspapers and flyers are dated, literally. But that’s what also gives them some power: they can take us back to different places, different times, different conditions and then let us work out some other route which doesn’t bring us back to this awful place. Compared to that, the Wayback Machine seems positively puny.

All of which is somewhat ironic as this post is just an excuse to stick up those Fisher quotes so I don’t lose them… Ah well, if it ain’t contradictory, it ain’t worth a fuck.

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cameron salford lads

We’ve just had a short piece published in the Guardian which sets out to explain why so many of us get pissed off when the rich turn up to music festivals, claim to like ‘our’ music, and generally try to colonise ‘our’ culture.

No doubt some of this is good old-fashioned toff-bashing (aw, sorry, Benedict) which feeds into a wider anger about gentrification – the way that ‘raw’ culture gets domesticated, sanitised and sold back to us. But we think there’s also a more far-reaching point here. This colonisation is part of an attempt to wipe out the history of ‘popular modernism’.

It’s hard to remember now, but for much of the second half of the twentieth century working-class (and lower-middle-class) kids directly influenced the future direction of society by pioneering both culture and styles of living. From bebop to Mod, from punk to hip hop, kids weren’t content with inhabiting the world – they wanted to remake it. So when Cameron poses at the Salford Lads Club, he’s not just trying to claim that alternative history as his own: he’s also hoping to erase an entire history and all the alternative futures it embodied.

Why does this matter? Because a different sort of future can only come from below. For all its talk of creativity and innovation, the future that neoliberalism offers is one-dimensional: tomorrow will be the same as today, except with more shiny commodities.

It’s hard to imagine the shape that popular modernism might take in the twenty-first century but we’ve tried to think through some of the problems (and possibilities) in This is Not a Love Song.

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the-great-escape 4a

Even before I emerged from childhood, I seem to have experienced, deeply at heart, that paradoxical feeling which was to dominate me all through the first part of my life: that of living in a world without any possible escape, in which there was nothing for it but to fight for an impossible escape.
Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary

I’m working on the layout of a new edition of Victor Serge’s Birth of Our Power, so I’ve just been reminded of how Serge opens his autobiography. I remember reading it about 30 years ago and those lines really struck a chord. There’s something in that notion of “an impossible escape”. Our idea of what’s possible at any moment is shaped by our immediate conditions: most of the time it feels like tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today. But every now and then something happens and you find yourself popping your head out and seeing an entirely different terrain.

Until then, it’s more like the end of Beckett’s The Unnamable: “you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

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.