Write Yer Ane Zine

Words about DIY punk; records, shows, interviews, whatever.

Tag: philosophy

Plague Diaries; One

“You should keep a journal, they’ll teach this in school a hundred years from now”.

My sister is one of the most measured, prodigious and driven human beings I’ve ever known. She is very good at being an adult and a functional human being and, given that I’m the younger of the siblings, the first yardstick by which I measure myself. I’ve always felt somewhat lagging, but reassured myself in characteristically self-delusional fashion that I was the creative one. Utter bullshit, obviously, but that’s for another time. History is written by the victors.

There’s a cacophony of noise despite dead streets. I’ve barely written a word of prose since the Brexit referendum but it feels like I’ve never stopped trying to carry the message, in the parlance of recovery. It’s a pity discourse has descended into screeching at a wall in mini-sociology essays on fuckin’ facebook; a practice I detest in others and loathe more deeply in myself, yet onwards we go; riffing on addiction, capitalist alienation and attendant demoralisation, without the hope of hope; the primary cause of death by suicide.

Now may not be the time for punk rock shows, but it’s definitely time for the lessons that punk rock has taught us. In times of chaos and confusion, clarity is key or, as Mick would’ve said, “the six P’s”; prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance; I’m deeply colonised (again, for another time). Fuck knows how you’d prepare for this, eh Tories?

We’re in this for the long haul, now is time to focus thinking, to move beyond rhetoric into applied philosophy and action.

Joe Exotic is a weapons-grade roaster, by the way.

 

Aftermath of a cowpunk ruckus.

 

Behind the bar at Dundee Women’s Fest.

 

Word on the street…

 

Stage set for Dundee Women’s Festival

 

Oil and water on tarmac gutter canvas

 

Turnstile at Glasgow Garage. Great fun but GAG stole the show.

 

The City Is Yours

 

The roads have never been this silent.

 

Without darkness, there can be no light.

 

Hardcore is a source of that light.

 

Fourteenth Birthday didn’t feel hugely like a party, more a holding ritual.

 

Work biyz, miss ye.

 

From Donna Ramone’s column in Razorcake 115. Art by Bon3dust.

 

Fuck Wetherspoons, dead city or otherwise.

 

Moscow, 91.

 

Mandated at 6pm; closed by 6.05pm.

 

A silent and heavy load-out.

 

Gravity.

 

Art by unknown.

 

Oil has no value in an economy without consumption.

 

Even in blackouts.

 

C. Gull kens better than Boris.

 

Art by Yugø (?)

 

Despite everything, deep inexpressible fervent hope remains.

 

The final punk 7″ of the neoliberal capitalocene?

 

In half-light we float onwards into the abyss.

 

Energy doesn’t die, it merely transforms.

 

Pin-drop human silence, bird riffs for days.

 

Everything that is has been willed, usually by cunts.

 

Rad Apples is closed, for now. Make That A Take aren’t taking any bookings at the moment and, at very least, all April and May shows are off. There are likely to be more cancellations; it’s not unimaginable that we’ll be lucky to get a gig this year, let alone a festival. The AJJ show remains on, at this time, but is subject to change. MTAT will do our best to keep everyone informed of any and all developments. It’s a fucking nightmare, for sure. Sorry to folk who’ve been trying to get in touch, things have been pretty overwhelming, as I know they’ve been for most.

All things considered, I consider myself exceptionally lucky. I can’t express how grateful I am to be living through this nightmare with Purple Haze, the most loving, compassionate and radical human being I have ever known. We’re currently listening to Beastie Boys (“Paul’s Boutique”, thanks for asking) whilst screenprinting and blogging respectively, and acknowledge the deep privilege of that position. We always joked that it’d take the collapse of western civilisation before we finally took a break…

If you’d like to show us solidarity at this time, we’d love to sell you some records and music. There are 100+ releases available from the MTAT Bandcamp page and a STACK of vinyl/CDs/cassettes/swag for sale at our Bigcartel page. Ye can also download the debut single from ALLDEEPENDS here, 7″ pre-order coming this week. Rad Apples are selling gift vouchers for future dinners too. I’d dearly love to smash a Cowpunk Burger into my face right now.

 

Take a read of this, this, this, this, this, this and this, if ye fancy.

Mutual aid and community solidarity is more important now than ever so stay close, stay in contact but also take care of yourself. Too much social media and too much boozin’ is bad for your health, especially if ye combine the two, in my experience!

Is this The End Of History?

Perhaps the end of the end of history?

We’re through the looking glass and into the abyss that’s been staring through us since we forgot the lessons of the last hundred and fifty years. Shit is scary but we WILL get through and, together, we’ll build the new world.

Stay safe, friends.

– xdrkx

‘Ugly David’

‘Ugly David’

An essay by Dom Kaddish

I wasn’t in the habit of noticing it at all: a small rectangular fridge magnet bearing a likeness of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, gifted to me by an eccentric member of the Hume Society many years ago….It is frankly hideous: Hume’s likeness comes from a bad waxwork, and it looks like he is melting. To avoid offending my eyes with it, I had placed this piece of cheap and ugly plastic on the side of the fridge. It was meant to be; out of sight, out of mind; (And, more to the point, out of sight and mind for potentially curious houseguests).

But there I was in the kitchen last night, doing the dishes as a way of 1.) hiding from the kids for ten minutes, and, 2.) focusing on something small, tedious and halfway in the midst of the (mindboggling and bewildering) COVID-19 crisis in the UK, when Ugly David reached right out from the fridge and grabbed me (I mean this figuratively, not literally; I have not lost my mind….Yet).

A quote beside David reads: “Tis not reason that is the guide of life, but custom”. The trained philosopher in me has always viewed this as a fairly dull statement of Hume’s philosophy (empiricism). The vain aesthete in me has always seen it as a fairly poor and random slogan for a fridge magnet.

But then I got to thinking….

Our habit in the face of something like the COVID-19 pandemic is to be hyper-rational. And by ‘our’ here, I mean that of literally everyone: child, teenager, parent, grandparent, teacher, pupil, friend, sibling, doctor, nurse, shopworker, policeman, criminal, soldier, student, artist, worker, jobseeker, engineer, homeless person, asylum seeker, politician, journalist, economist, epidemiologist…. Whichever terms here best describe you (and there are innumerably many others that can be added), we are extremely well versed in being hyper-rational these days.

This means we do things like the following: we reason in terms of chains of inference (if X, then Y…. Either A or B…. ); we look for relationships of cause and effect; we try to reason in terms of relevant analogies, symmetries, asymmetries and patterns; we think in terms of parts and wholes…. These and other processes are what we might call the hyper-rationalist ‘toolkit’.

This toolkit can be put to especially industrious use in networked societies. This is because there is astronomically more information for these habits and customs to work with in such societies. In fact, you might call these habits and customs ‘algorithms’. This is because they can be mathematically modeled and trained, and because a particular class of machines (Von Neumann ones) are extremely good at performing them (in fact, significantly better than humans in certain cases, such as on chains of inference and pattern recognition).

This can be a very good thing. We do, for instance, all have very good reasons to be concerned for healthcare workers and the ill/vulnerable at this time, and it is completely rational to want to support them as best we can. The right algorithms and machines, moreover, can and will be an important part of helping us through this.

Hume’s point, however, is that these kinds of habits and customs, although important, can only be part of the story. There are two main reasons for this (it is of course a paradox that these are reasons, but just suspend that trained philosopher ‘clever clogs’ tick for a moment: dull scholastic papers can be written about it in the future….) First: being hyper-rational can guide us in the wrong direction, in no direction at all, or in too many directions at once (the toolkit is only as good as its material, and it can do a botched job). Second: there are other kinds of habits and customs.

On the first point, it is worth noting that there are other (less edifying) types that could have been added to the list of people given above: ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘narcissist’, ‘egotist’, ‘paranoiac’, ‘reactive’, ‘harsh judge’, ‘troll’, ‘preacher’, ‘catastrophist’….

Hume, I think, would want to see these types in a continuum with the ones listed above. This is because we all have the propensity to be these kinds of people at least some of the time, and because these less edifying types also make use of the hyper-rationalist tool kit. The conspiracy theorist will, for instance, reason in terms of cause and effect (Which scapegoat/dark nemesis is the cause of all of this? Who must be responsible?). The paranoiac will do this too, and often with justifiable reason in the immediate circumstances surrounding a change that has not yet become familiar (Is that person standing less than two metres from me? Will they cause something in me?). And the catastrophist will reason by analogy and see things in terms of patterns and parts and wholes (Is this a kind of ‘war’? Have I been ‘enlisted’? Where are we on a sliding scale between CJD/Spanish Flu/ The Plague? What part will this play in rearranging the whole economy?)

Quite how well these types use the hyper-rationalist toolkit is a different matter. That they are using it is a matter of fact, and one that is historically intensified in highly networked societies, where we all have the means to be these kinds of people more often, and, thereby, to lead ourselves and others round and round in vicious circles of scepticism, shame, anxiety and doubt.

On the second point, consider three recent events: 1.) when the phrase ‘panic buying’ entered the media in connection with COVID-19, people started panic buying; 2.) when it was announced that pubs would be closing (Friday 20th March 2020), people bought booze in bulk; 3.) when it was announced that large sections of the UK population were being asked not to go to work, people visited parks and holiday spots.

These three events generated a lot of moralism online, but the target was largely misplaced. People weren’t doing these things for reasons they had reflected on; they were acting according to well-ingrained habits and customs that have been inculcated in them (Worried? Let’s go shopping…. Pubs are shut? Let’s party back at mine…. No work on Monday? Let’s go on holiday….)

Bad customs and habits can be as worthy of condemnation as bad intentions and reasons, and just as pernicious in their effects. If we fail to recognise precisely what we are condemning, however, and how badly and condescendingly we sometimes do it, then we will fail to see how the situation might be altered for the better: in the face of a pandemic, you can’t just appeal to people’s reason and expect things to be altered immediately; you also have to reshape their habits and customs, and this takes time.

The ‘what aboutery’ response here, of course, is that time is what we might not have. But this never was a zero sum game: it is not a case of either reason or custom. Instead, Hume’s point is that you must appeal to both, because they are in a continuum, and, even more importantly, you ought to focus most of your attention on customs and habits, because that’s where you can expect the most important and progressive changes to happen.

Providing we can find the time to let them grow, such changes can, as Hume puts it, be our ‘guide of life’. Whether and how we can find the time for them at a national/planetary/civilisational level is a matter of great hyper-rational consternation right now. What many of us do currently have, however, in a situation where many of our most cherished habits and customs have received an almighty jolt, is the scope to reinvent our own habits and customs. And we have to do this, both in order to have them to fall back on for personal care, and in preparation to join the dots between them/ scale them up for the more caring society that we are going to have to find the courage and energy for as we move towards the future.

So, I was not in the habit of noticing an ugly fridge magnet that a snobby part of me had intentionally misplaced….

What I was also not in the habit of thinking was that a sustained philosophical reflection like this could have grown out of one Koan-ish sentence, previously discounted as a bad slogan (‘Tis not reason….’), or that the reflection in question could have been written out on a phone (as this one has). This is because the snobby part of me, you see, still thought that you simply had to take the time to read and understand entire dusty old books, and that the writing conditions for philosophy simply had to be more romantic (the starving lunatic/genius in a garret – the usual teenage-angsty bullshit).

In the present conditions, I am much more inclined to trust and celebrate the part of me that can’t afford to be this self-indulgent: the part that has to steal ten minutes to do the dishes and have a think sparked by whatever important stimuli are to hand.

It turns out that that old cliché is right: there are stimuli around us like this all the time, making gentle demands to be noticed. What I want to convey here, however, isn’t just the cliché. It’s also this: good and healthy habits and customs can be nurtured around these stimuli and their attendant acts of noticing.

In times as fraught and hyper-rational as these, such regimens and routines are what can keep us sane and together…. I will, for instance, be stealing ten minutes to do the dishes this evening. I am looking forward to it, and already have a notion of what I want think about: it concerns that magnet again, but doesn’t have to do with high-faluting philosophical ideas. What writing this (another such regimen) has made me recall, you see, is that my elder son used that magnet as a way of learning the name of my wife’s brother. My son would point to it, and make utterances; my wife and I would say back ‘yes, that’s David’; over time, the habit of saying ‘David’ was acquired and perfected. It is now a little anchor in my son’s life. To him, it is not a word with two syllables, not the name of a Hebrew King, and certainly not the first name of a famous Scottish philosopher; it is rather a bridge for making contact with an Uncle who loves and cares about him.

That’s what I’ll be thinking about when I do the dishes tonight: the story, not of ‘Ugly David’ the fridge magnet, but of my son and ‘Uncle David’.

The “World World Was Still?” LP by Kaddish is out now on Make That A Take + Black Lake Records.

AGAINST IMMISERATION; An Essay by Dom Kaddish

WYAZ presents the second post-EU referendum essay by Dom Kaddish. Please read, consider, respond and circulate as you deem necessary. Discussion and discourse is actively encouraged.

End, As In Aim.

So picture the gravest fear and dread.
Here hope is the lie that keeps its head.

Say you’ve got a hope.
Say you want an end to fear.

An end to fear.

Say you’ve got a hope.
Say you want an end to fear.

Photo by J. Cumiskey

AGAINST IMMISERATION

What’s the fucking point of playing in a band when your body is ageing and your hearing damaged? What’s the fucking point of going to gigs and chatting, on the level, to people of different ages, genders, colours, cultures, and backgrounds when the media constantly chastens us with images of violence, and enjoins us to hate others and be suspicious of them? What’s the fucking point of voting in a referendum where the crunch matter appears to have come down to an entitled Tory elite masturbating over how to convince one of their female members to reheat the tired ghost of Margaret fucking Thatcher?

Here’s a suggestion: couldn’t it be that the deluded little spaces in which we play, chat, act, think and commit ourselves are more political by a long shot than the black hole at Westminster that awaits the next bunch of careerists perverse enough to get sucked into it? The fucking point, then, would be that our whole conception of politics has to change. For example, what created the current constitutional crisis in the UK was misplaced faith in an out-of-date form of representative government centred on individuals as well-informed agents, capable of making rational choices in their own best interests, and of acting in the best interests of others when presented with a crude either/or choice on an issue of massive complexity. This model was co-opted by greed, self-interest, stupidity, lack of information, and a giant dose of the negative affects of shame, fear and hate. Given the fallout, perhaps it is now time to try to do something paradoxical, different, and more excitingly difficult: to try, at one and the same time, to think and act both above and below the out-of-date model of politics.

By ‘above’, I mean this: we have to aspire to have the courage and the temerity to look the complexity of our world straight in the face. That is, we have to aspire to a culture, not where no-one is an expert (à la Gove), but where everyone is. This would be a culture in which everyone aspires to learn something about such heady things as economics, statistics, as well as big data patterns in demographics and human geography, and where an understanding of the role of nonhuman actors in politics would be encouraged (e.g. the role of such actors in the current UK crisis as mobile computing, agricultural and fishing yields, the English Channel, globalisation, the ecological crisis, etc. etc.). This would not be a culture where knowledge of such things was used to baffle and belittle; rather, since no one single actor could feasibly claim a knowledge of the whole, it would be a culture where everyone takes some responsibility for educating themselves and others, and where each is empowered and encouraged to do.

By ‘below’, I mean this: the UK referendum of 23 June 2016 was a coup for a reactive form of politics that traded on affects and gut reactions, instead of on concepts tied to the out-of-date model of politics mentioned above (e.g. the concept of the transparently well-informed and rational voter; or that of a ‘minister’ who is ‘prime’ in the sense of being the first and most powerful person to look after the needs of all the people in his or her polity, when the then incumbent was exposed by events for an incompetent beholding to the interests of Tory bigots of depressing resilience and longevity). What was far more effective than concepts and reason in swaying the campaigning in this instance was the propagation of the aforesaid negative affects of shame, fear and hate. Faced with these affects, the fatal mistake of left/liberal sections of the media/social media/the Twitterati was a retreat into the echo chamber of fatalistic intellectualism (consider the typical Brexit crisis moves made by these sections of the media: black humour, condescension, introspection and soul searching, cod philosophy, historical musings, irony, droll memes, the attempt at agonised liberal ‘understanding’ of what could have driven the dispossessed and disenfranchised to it, etc., etc.). The result was two modes of political address that comprehensively talked past one another: one employing the ‘post-fact’ logic of icons, hates, and anxieties; the other employing a form of reason that had become too clever and self-reflexive by half.

One solution to this impasse, I am suggesting (the one that goes ‘above’), is to aspire to better education, in terms of better concepts that have a better purchase on the complexities of our interconnected and interdependent world. Here’s another solution for how we might simultaneously get ‘below’ the impasse: first, let’s give up old concepts tied to the values of liberal/humanistic education and grand parliamentary politics; second, let’s avoid propagating negative affects in their place; third, let’s focus instead on the creation and nurturing of positive affects, such as joy, love, and openness. If such an agenda seems liberal, Christian, ‘new agey’ or out of step with what I said above about the necessity of arriving at better concepts, then you have simply missed the point. This is because what is at stake here is not how ‘good’ or ‘wise’ you or I might be, nor how much right we might have to the moral high ground, nor how much we might like the recourse to safe, comfortable, and ultimately hopelessly out of touch old political categories. Rather, what is at stake is what should be termed the ‘ecology’ of our mental health, well-being and fellow feeling, and by ‘our’ here, I mean the mental health of everyone with a stake in the issues of which the current UK constitutional crisis is symptomatic, including everyone else in the world right now, and all future generations.

The ecology of mental health concerns how one’s mindset, mood, and general sense of affect relates to the world in which it finds itself. This ecology has not, we should admit, been in a good way, globally, for some time now, and its problems predate the 2008 financial crisis by some way (in fact, they feed into it as conditions of its possibility). Here’s a suggestion as to what has eroded it: spaces of immiseration. Under this concept, we could group any number of environments that go into shaping the character of the contemporary globalised world, including, but far from limited to: factories in China; Coltan mines in the Congo; sweatshops in Turkey and Bangladesh; battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria; Social Security offices and dole queues in any ‘developed’ country; all that urban sprawl that was so ripe for sub-priming in the US pre-2008; open-plan offices; bookies; grey and ill-equipped classrooms; call centres; slaughterhouses; Amazon depots; police cells; and the countless situations in which way too much solitude is frittered away in front of a TV or a computer. Here’s a suggestion as to what might act as the antidote: spaces of possibility. Such spaces, to start from the highly dubious base of idealising what I personally know and esteem, might include: live music spaces; classrooms where participants are encouraged and equipped to learn from all others present and not simply shut their mouths and act as consumers of information spoon fed by the guy mansplaining at the front; parks; wilderness; sports pitches where moments of team creativity emerge; seashores; long walks through places either familiar or unfamiliar, with or without guiding thread; art galleries, studios, and workshops where you might actually stand the chance of speaking and interacting with artists and craftspeople; book shops, record shops and libraries; day centres, drop-in centres, and clinics where you can bump into people all too burned out by the state of it all not to speak themselves honestly, with heart.

I said that it was dubious to start from what I personally know and esteem. You are therefore entirely free to take issue with the list I have just contrived, as too ‘male’, ‘romantic’, ‘liberal’, ‘hipster’ (God forbid), or whatever. This apart, however, let me extend two invitations to you that are centred on the concepts mentioned above, and not on what I have grouped under them. First, to reflect on the spaces of possibility that matter most to you. Second, and far more importantly, to reflect and act on how we might convert spaces of immiseration into spaces of possibility. The first of these tasks, undertaken collectively, would amount to an inventory of our weapons: a stocktake of the spaces that matter to us, and that renew our sense of health and possibility for the living of meaningful lives. The second task would involve using these weapons on the battlefields where the real politics of our lives get fought out (and not in exclusive, outmoded, rarefied political vacuums such as Westminster, where fractions of the battles of our lives get misrepresented and used as pawns in games played by self-serving political cadres).

Fear of the other. Fear of the self. Fear of death. Fear of the unknown. Fear of technology and the pace of change. Fear of not ‘being a man’, whatever that means. Fear of irrelevance and poverty in an age of celebrity and the ‘super rich’. Fear of being fat, stupid, old, or useless. Fear of gun and knife crimes, rape, and hate. ETC. FUCKING ETC. These are the negative affects that spaces of immiseration nurture like cancer. How do we take the love, hope, joy, respect, and sense of other possible worlds and horizons that spaces of possibility involve and use them to bring out the possibilities that spaces of immiseration keep repressed under the increasingly shabby and disingenuous veneer of consensus and polite society? And what makes this struggle both worthwhile and eminently doable, on an everyday basis, and from this very instant?

Consider whether something like the following might work for you (if not, invent your own tactic, as is your right and your want): the next time you realise you are in a space of immiseration (and the gut sinking feeling will be sufficient to establish it), think about how you typically act in a space of possibility, and insinuate one such way of acting into the space of immiseration. The next time after this, insinuate two acts. After that, insinuate three. After that, four. And so on, and so on, until new possibilities have reached such a pitch that they have somehow cracked open the space of immiseration in favour of something better and more liveable. The acts I have in mind here can be crude or sophisticated, and might include: making passionate music, for purposes other than consumption; being playful; thinking tangentially; daydreaming; humour; kindness; openness; interest in others and their stories and fates; acts that are revelatory of self and history without tipping into narcissism; expressions of wonder, weakness, and astonishment; recognitions of limitations and ignorance; the construction of a shared focus or creative goal between you and others that adds some measure of dignity to the space, however small; the vigilant attempt to keep the spectre of the profit motive to a minimum. And so on, and so on, etc., etc.

What’s especially funny about such acts is when they work subliminally – that is, when others within the space recognise that a new possibility has been introduced, but resist it, preferring instead the tendencies of immiseration as a kind of short-term comfy/long-term deadly safety net. Because the roboticisms of immiseration cannot recognise new possibilities, you can rest assured that there will be no immediate explicit reproach for the possibility you have introduced (that is, no shared recognition that the recognition has taken place individually within the separate actors in the space). What there might be, however, is a more or less collective implicit recognition – a seed planted that will grow with time. In this case, the words, actions and affects you use to make spaces of immiseration become spaces of possibility will take on the character of a sort of gentle and subtle guerrilla warfare: a thousand little harrying tactics intended to perplex and provoke others into giving up the dubious safety net of immiseration.

To sum up:
Stop thinking in terms of redundant concepts representative of a bygone age of politics.

Start aspiring to think in terms of the complex concepts that we all know are required to think the world in which we live.

Stop tolerating the poisonous effects of negative affects through inaction and resignation.

Start spreading positive affects in any practicable way you can, because they are sufficient to convert spaces of immiseration, however overwhelming, ubiquitous and monolithic these spaces may seem in the contemporary world, into spaces rich in open and positive possibilities for new forms of life.

***

ASTHENIA PDF-page-001

Kaddish play Conroy’s Basement in Dundee with Asthenia (Japan), Human Hands (eng) and Arkless (eng) on Wednesday 17th August.

The New Situation; An Essay by Dom Kaddish

IMG_0515

The world we live in is not the world we were born into. The following is an essay written by a man for whom I have the deepest of respect in all capacities; musically, artistically, professionally, as a thinker, as a peer, as a human; and someone I am grateful to call a good friend, Dom Kaddish.

In solidarity and hope, I am humbled to provide WYAZ as a platform.

The New Situation.

[Dear All, the following is overtly, and not allusively political. If you disagree with it in style or substance, come along to, for example, a punk rock show or a University class room and tell us or someone else why. In other words, use every available opportunity to keep up the impetus for a new grass roots progressive politics to emerge in the UK and elsewhere post-23 June 2016. It is necessary but not sufficient for us to discuss such things through the Internet. We also need to make them count in building a better society, through our actions and words in the spaces where we actually commit our bodies].

Yesterday, 1 July 2016, the Conservative party in the UK attempted to assure us that politics in the UK is ‘back to business’ in the wake of Brexit. A Mr. Gove invoked further deluded promises about the NHS, when discretion suggested this was a thing best avoided. A Mrs. May invoked her talents as a hard worker, as well as her gender (this last point being important in the context of the obnoxious ‘boy’s club’ that led to Brexit, but Mrs May’s party is attempting to cash in on it in a way that superficially emulates but actually runs counter to the progressive female strand of politics running through, say, Holyrood).

None of this can stand: we simply cannot allow the elite of the Conservative party to try to convince us that they are operating on the basis of a post-Brexit consensus, and that they have our interests at heart in any way at all. We cannot allow politics to return to a state of unscrutinised Tory-led ‘management’. Doing so will only validate what has always been at the heart of the Tory party: upstairs privilege over downstairs servitude.

Instead of building a consensus and helping the people of the UK, the Conservative party has perpetrated an act of unparalleled violence against the social ontology of the UK in the lead up to, and in the wake of, the referendum of 23 June 2016. That is, they have effected a shift in the way that every entity related to the entity ‘the UK’ relates to every other entity related to this entity. They have done it by instrumentalising a mode of politics (the either/or referendum) that was always too crude to deal with the complexities of this ontology, and the consequence of this is that neighbours, words, glances, embraces, sighs, stares, handshakes, schools, immigrants, jobs, friends, taxis, hopes, fears, pensions, pounds and Euros (etc., etc., ad infinitum) no longer relate in the same way as before.

Given this violence, attempts to move on are appropriate. These include: humour; changing the topic of conversation; smiling a bit more; feeling a bit more driven to think, write or feel something; being warmer and more open to people who don’t look and think like you; wanting to strive for a better and more tolerant society that doesn’t condone or cynically instrumentalise racism, etc., etc. These attempts to move on are not attempts to move backwards. On the contrary, attempts to move backwards are, by definition, ‘conservative’, and if there is one entity that events since 23 June have comprehensively destroyed, it is the party that bears that name.

There can be no ‘business as usual’ on behalf of the Conservative party because there is no Conservative party. Instead, the convulsing psychotic ghost that persists in the wake of that party has no consensus, no mandate, and no real vision at all, and this makes it a deeply dangerous, reactionary, and volatile force (witness May’s party’s instrumentalisation of the female card, one of the few apparently progressive moves that was left to it). That said, it also makes it a potentially weak and waning force, provided we, the progressive and internationalist forces in the game, play our cards right, and cease to be so haunted.

There can be no business as usual in the wake of 23 June, in whatever sense (as resigned, as alienated, as disenfranchised, as relieved, as whatever). We have to lay claim to our changed social ontology and recognise that the Conservative party and the hideous forces they have recently colluded with can have no real part to play in it, provided that we have the courage to exorcise them. We have to do our business differently, by not giving up and accepting Conservative attempts to manage what they have conjured. Much more is possible than that for progressive, tolerant, and socially just reform of all sorts of entities, including, but not limited to: the EU, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the age divide, racism, the North/South divide, the European sense of self and other.

Let’s resolve to be socially responsible and just citizens in a time of spectres.

***

Kaddish released “Thick Letters To Friends” in 2014. Their new LP will be released soon.