revolution or collapse
I’m kicking off this series with a powerful vision of the future. My guest is an 18 year old communizer who has spent the last few years in radical left online subcultures. Following this interview they helped found an anarchist group that grew to 15 chapters throughout the United States and 1 in Europe. (We will discuss this project in more detail in forthcoming posts.) Alongside the memes on their account, they frequently post fantasy landscapes of post-collapse, post-civilization overgrowth. Imagine a salvage economy— like Mad Max —but with agricultural communes. Maybe these fictional larp spaces are a necessary step to rekindle our political imaginations. They may help us to envision the new world.
Suburbs of Boston
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I would describe myself as a Communist, more specifically a Marxist Communizer, and a Post-Civilizationist.
Some of the biggest influences on my current views are Marx and Engels, Max Stirner, the Situationist International, and Gilles Dauve. A lot of my background before I got into those thinkers was in anarchist, queer, and feminist spaces so I was exposed to and influenced by a lot of those ideas.
When did you first learn about or start visiting online political communities?
About 4 years ago is when I really got into it. I was frustrated with how things were going in American society and believed radical change was needed, but wasn’t sure how it could come about. I started just posting social-democratic pro-Bernie stuff back in 2016 but at the same time I was reading into all sorts of other things and talking to people all over the left of political Instagram.
What was your ideology before entering these spaces? Or how have your views evolved since you started participating?
I was a social democrat, but an angry one increasingly dissatisfied with the solutions all the other social democrats offered.
What changes do you think we are likely to see in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years I think the ecological disaster we’re in the middle of will accelerate and become even more intense, I think that social attitudes will become, in general, even more nihilistic than they are, and people even more dissatisfied with politics as they have been presented to them. There will probably be more insurrections than usual, and hopefully that will explode into a social revolution, but I don’t claim that it necessarily will do that in the next 10 years. I think the bourgeoise will struggle more and more to reproduce capitalist relations even as the economy technically goes up, and that we’ll see more automation and digitization of labor than ever before.
What changes do you think we are likely to see in the next 40 years?
I think in the next 40 years capitalism will be pushed to its breaking point. Either there will be a revolution or a collapse. Collapse would be the scenario in which the massive pressures of climate change are too much for our society to handle, leading to some sort of societal implosion. I think billions would die in that scenario, and I’m not sure what might come after. Revolution would be the beginning of Communization on a global scale, the creation of communist relations, and would establish the proletariat as the dominant power in society. That dictatorship of the proletariat would be in the active process of dissolving itself as it dissolves the proletariat as a class itself.
What changes do you want to see in the next 10 years?
I want to see revolution. In the next ten years, towards that goal, I would want to see proletarians struggling to build new relations now, and preparing themselves to live differently and transform society. I think they can do this by arming themselves and training and organizing for their mutual defense, especially the most marginalized of them. They could also do that by establishing networks of mutual aid to help each other out independently of anti-revolutionary institutions. I would like to see our culture as a whole shift so that we support each other and clearly articulate to each other our position in society and how we feel about it. I think people have a lot of skepticism towards how things are, they don’t really believe in them or take them seriously in their hearts, and they’ve got a lot of love for themselves and each other and their world that they either suppress or direct into “the appropriate channels” negating their effects. I think a general culture of speaking openly is part of the groundwork for revolution. And I think people deal with a lot of fear. I think if the proletariat as a whole begins to realize it’s own power, people won’t be so afraid anymore.
What changes do you want to see in the next 40 years?
In the next 40 years I want to see revolution.
What tools, technologies or tactics are most important to achieve this?
I think that the tools and technologies we need to transform society already have been created by capitalist society, and many (but certainly not all) of the tactics we need by past revolutionaries. All we need to know is how to use them, which usually means using them differently than they were intended. Lots of different people will have to learn lots of different things, so I think it’s difficult to pin down what specifically. I think ideally all or most of the proletariat would learn how to fight to defend themselves and destroy the capitalist state, using whatever means are easily available to them. As a society it would be good if we were all more involved in the production of our own food, housing, and clothing and started to grow more of it close to where we live. Lots of the ways we do things now are immensely destructive to the environment and to humans, and we’ve developed our technologies accordingly, so I think a communist society would develop tech very differently, and the more we can adapt now to use tech in better ways the smoother that will go. The more we can learn to live without mining the better, for example, because that will most likely have to stop entirely.
What are the most common jobs in this future society?
I think it would be whatever people want to do, for the most part, but I think probably almost everyone will be partially involved, by choice, in the process of food production. Probably all or most parts. Communist society will have to use permaculture or some other new technique humans invent somehow to grow food sustainably, rather than industrial agriculture as we know it. I think people would be involved in gardening near where they live with their neighbors and in cooking. But they would also do so much more. Probably people would spend a lot of the time just playing around, celebrating nothing or everything in particular, relaxing, socializing and telling stories. People would engage in a whole variety of activities as pleases them, coordinated in common for society’s needs.
Where do most people live?
I think where most people would live partially on how long society has been communizing, but ultimately the separation between the countryside and city would be mostly abolished. I think people would likely live in small eco-villages basically, long term, but probably a lot of dwellings would be transformed versions of current structures. We have no need for a lot of them now, so we would put them to other uses, and let plants and animals reclaim many. No need to build too many new ones, although I’m sure people will do plenty of that too as they desire. Most people I think would move out of the cities, cities wouldn’t even really be a thing anymore, but some areas could still definitely be more densely populated than others.
What modes of transportation do people use?
I think communist people will come up with all sorts of new ways of getting around, but I think people will do a lot more walking and biking than they do now, I think there will be less need to travel, only for pleasure. Probably trains and busses over cars. I think cars will be pretty much not a thing. There will be less need to travel with urgency, and society will recognize the need for environmental health, so airplanes also might be almost obsolete entirely.
How are goods produced?
The means of production would be under collective control, but I think they would be radically altered in a lot of cases and used differently, to make productive activity more pleasurable and to make it so it’s no longer destroying the earth. Unsustainable productive practices would have to cease entirely. I think people would re-purpose everything left over from capitalist society, like turning the office buildings into communal gardens, for example, and build new structures for themselves, if they feel moved to, in harmony with the earth. Work would be abolished, which means that all productive activity would be undertaken voluntarily, for its own sake; either because they enjoy the activity, or it makes them more happy to know that they’ve helped their community and made them happy than the activity is unpleasant to them. The economy would be abolished. I think people would organize this sort of activity communally so that they could coordinate the completion of necessary tasks and organize bigger communal projects. They would communally do whatever they communally decide to do, but if someone didn’t want to partake or wanted to do their own thing they could do that and organize any assistance they want on their own. I think that these communal meetings wouldn’t just coordinate essential productive activity, but all sorts of communal activities, since recreation and production would no longer be separate. I think they’d sort of evolve from revolutionary workers councils most likely.
How is food produced?
A community farm open to everyone, to which a workers council would send people who are looking to farm, who would then probably manage the more localized managing of the farm themselves, probably by consensus but there wouldn’t be a strict rule about the method.
How do these goods and food reach consumers?
I think a lot of things would be distributed on the spot to those nearby and consumed partially by the people who produced goods, but in other cases the people’s councils (what ill refer to the those hypothetical ex-workers councils as) or whatever other sort of organization the people come up with will organize a few volunteers to coordinate shipping goods where they need to get from where they’re produced. I think the need to ship things would probably be reduced, and people would likely be okay with taking a lot more time to ship them if it’s not urgent. I imagine storehouses would be set up where people can come pick up what they need, at will if it’s something in abundance. Some goods may be rationed if they’re in particularly short supply, but I think people would mostly just take what they need as the economy would be abolished.
How much leisure time do people have?
The separation between “work time” and “free time” would be abolished entirely, so an individual could probably take as much time to laze around as they want, but I don’t think people would really want to just lay around all the time. I think people would do productive useful things, like farming or what have you, but I think they’d take a lot of time to do other things too, and mix other enjoyable activities with their productive activities. I think people would take a lot more time to sit together and tell stories, and they’d make music and create things that intrigue and inspire them. I think they’d play a lot of the same games as we do now, but would also begin to develop all sorts of new creative ways of entertaining themselves. Books, movies, and all that would be available for free. I think people would educate themselves for the sake of learning, because they enjoy it. We would set ourselves purely to the task of finding fulfillment and pleasure for ourselves in harmony with each other and nature, rather than submitting ourselves to economic powers.
What kind of energy does this society use?
I think it would firstly drastically reduce its energy consumption, but cutting off the power to commercial and industrial sources that are no longer needed, and (at least in the first world) reduce personal energy consumption as well. What energy we would need could be generated from solar panels and windmills we construct from salvaged materials, or really any other sort of power generation that isn’t destructive to the earth. I would hesitate actually also to say that windmills aren’t destructive, as they kill lots of birds, but I think 40 years from now windmills will probably be a big part of how we get power, and we’ll transition away from it as there are better easily available alternatives, and the construction of both windmills and solar panels is the requirement of mining their material. I think the specific means of generating power different communities will use will vary greatly by the environmental circumstances of that community.
Where is this society located?
The dictatorship of the proletariat would definitely have to be a global state of affairs, although the ways people live in different regions may vary greatly
Who are *you* in this society?
I think young people would be doing very different things depending on where they’re being brought up, and what they like doing. Schools would be available for people of all ages, and I can talk about that more if you want. I’ll talk ab what I’d be doing, but really someone who’s 18 whose whole life has been post-revolution would probably think very different from me, having been raised in capitalist society. For example they may feel less urgent of a need to escape their family and hometown. But I think I would head to a place where there’s lots of people doing all sorts of different cool things, which could be really pretty much anywhere, and I’d just try a whole bunch of stuff out and try to meet a bunch of cool people. Then I’d just stick with whatever I like. I’d travel a lot I think, seeings lots of different places and staying as long as pleases me, but probably stick to the warm places.
What items do you have in your future home?
I think people would have all sorts of different things depending on what they like to do, but in general wouldn’t keep much more than they need, but on the other hand would probably live more communally so they would probably keep all sorts of things for the general health and entertainment of the community. I think I wouldn’t want to settle in one place, not yet, so I wouldn’t keep much on me. Just what I need in a backpack, for a while. I’d probably want to settle down later and relax more. I kinda have trouble answering this one because I don’t really know. Once I settled down probably just a few things related to a couple things I like doing, like a guitar if I ever actually start playing that again, and a bed. There would be things like appliances to cook with in common probably.
Where are most people in this society from?
If it’s 40 years probably the majority were alive pre-revolution, and are then probably from cities. I think there’d be a massive migration of people out of the cities and into eco-villages like that, and also probably people leaving the lands around the equator because of climate change. Hopefully when the communist people end climate change after a while people could start to move back.
How are laws created?
For the most part I think “law” would take the form of just publicly expressed ethics, I mean like the people would have their ideas about how things should be done and how people should treat each other, and when someone violates that it would be made socially clear to them that it’s frowned upon. If something needs to be spelled out specifically, the people could devise whatever means they need to to decide on a law, probably attempting consensus, and probably starting from their councils, but they would scrap whatever system for law making they have as pleases them. No sacred constitutions here. The whole idea of law really would be radically reinterpreted.
Does this society run up against any natural limits?
I think every society runs into the natural limit which is that if they destroy the life around them they make it impossible for them to reproduce their own life sustainably or healthily. I think a communist society would necessarily recognize these limits, and that communist people would strive to find a way to surpass them without destroying the earth. Shortly after the revolution people may not recognize these limits as much as in a society where the value of protecting the earth has been passed on for generations, but the revolution would necessitate a massive shift. They would be recognized on a societal scale at least.
What are the biggest religious or spiritual organizations, if any?
Ultimately I think religion would fade away over time. The revolution will be iconoclastic, I think it in the revolutionary process much of the relics of the old religions would be swept away. I imagine churches would be used as homes, although I like Guy Debord’s idea to turn them into haunted houses. If formal institutions like churches are still operating, I think they’d do it with different focus, in a way that’s mostly subordinated to the ethics of the new society. What might resemble “liberation theology” today might be the conservative faiths of the future. I imagine many more would abandon their current Gods and embrace other currently suppressed faiths- perhaps try to get in tune with the local nature spirits. There’s something exciting about the Gods of the past; orgies and parties to honor the Gods all year round. Perhaps we would just do them for ourselves, no need to justify it with a deity when we’re deconstructing morality as a whole.
What are the most popular artists, writers, filmmakers, etc? What do they make?
Well, everyone would be a lot more free to write, make and make films or “art” as they please (I am in the habit of saying art would be abolished, in the sense that it would no longer be separate from the rest of our activity, it would all be free and creative activity), and everyone would be sharing and distributing what they produce in this sense for free. Naturally I assume some particular people might gain exceptional popular attention, but I think people would be a lot more occupied with the creations of the people around them than with the artificial stars and billion dollar movies we see now.
What state is nature in compared to today?
I think we would allow the dense wildlife to re-occupy a lot of our land as well, and act to hasten natural reforestation. I hope and the think at least some revolutionaries will take radical actions to generally liberate nature from industrial civilization’s grasp: blowing up dams for example.
Were there any key historical events that led to this society?
What will bring about the revolution? Who knows. The actual revolution begins with the communizing social insurrection, and I think those usually have lots of factors that contribute to them, and their ability to spread. Only time can tell.