A promising new UK-based left-wing journal called Salvage was launched last month. Salvage describes itself as a “quarterly of revolutionary arts and letters,” and the editorial team includes such heavyweights of British radicalism as Richard Seymour and China Miéville. The opening salvo of their inaugural issue is a piece called “Don’t Mourn, Accelerate” by Jamie Allinson. Check out an excerpt below, or read the whole thing at the Salvage website.
Yet the historic premise of Communism as a manifesto, rather than a state of being in common, was nonetheless navigation of a kind. The progressive political projects of the twentieth century relied upon the idea that a different order of things was possible: that it would therefore have to be established in the future and required some kind of schema directed towards an unknown horizon. However circuitous the route, the starting point had to be the actuality of contemporary conditions. Such projects – socialist, communist, even anarchist – involved repurposing and navigation as well as refusal. Whether the envisaged future lay on the other side of revolutionary cataclysm, or at the end of the stodgier process of nationalisation of the commanding heights, it was seen not merely as possible but malleable.
If there is one especially severe deficiency among the many that characterise the Left in the English-speaking world, it is the lack of such a horizon. In the absence of the idea that some future world could be run in a post-capitalist and egalitarian way, anti-capitalism in the present becomes simply a hobby: historical re-enactment or moralism depending upon one’s choice of groupsucle. The Left has come to mirror a world of cultural and political stasis: empty blockbuster reboots, repetitive music trends, and ever more vicious doses of the same neoliberal policies. In this world, who can be blamed for the failure to seize an imaginary future? The crushing and cumulative victory of capital over labour and its associated strata; the consequent leveraging of inequality to absurd levels and the near-certainty of environmental catastrophe make visions of a better future a most degraded currency in which to trade. No plausible candidate has emerged to fill the ideological shoes vacated by the working class movement as historical subject. No force awaits to change the disastrous course. Dreaming of the future, let alone planning to get there faster, seems an unpardonable luxury.