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Tag: progressive

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 For example, what created the current constitutional crisis in the UK was misplaced faith in an out-of-date form of representative government centred on individuals as well-informed agents, capable of making rational choices in their own best interests, and of acting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different, and more excitingly difficult: to try, at one and the same time, to think and act both above and below the out-of-date model of politics.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.

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October Means I’m Getting Older

I’ve just realised that it has been over a month since I last posted a blog. That’s a long time for me to keep my gob shut but, believe me, it’s not for the lack of subject matter about which to run my mouth, more a lack of time in which to do so. Regardless, it has been a very busy time and there have been some rad shows over the last month or so. Arliss Nancy at Kage was a particular belter and Boab’s show with The Holy Mess, The Smith Street Band and The Menzingers at the Classic Grand was something very special indeed. I remember the first time that The Menzingers played at the Note to about 40 folk and it’s heartwarming to see a band that comes from the DIY punk rock scene crossing over and pretty much selling out an entire UK tour of big venues while still delivering banger after banger. The Smith Street Band were amazing also. Wil is such an engaging character and the band have a bucketful of future classics. It was the first time that I have seen The Holy Mess and I picked up their latest LP. It’s called “Comfort In The Discord” and is a cracker that reminds me of Dead To Me in parts; grubby no-frills punk rock like yer granny used to make. Between work, shows, the label, playing with my owns bands, etc, there just haven’t been enough hours in the day for me to get shit done. On that note, and by way of a public apology, I’m sorry if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t got back to you yet, I’m pretty much an asshole.

The Menzingers in Glasgow

The Menzingers in Glasgow

I spent last weekend out on the road with The Fur Coats (Scotland) for four days at what were four very different yet equally compelling shows across Scotland. It was great to finally get up to Inverness for a show and the dudes at Mad Hatters and Hootenany’s run a super-tight ship and come highly recommended. Marc Ruvolo is a special individual who writes incredible quirky pop songs and is a unique talent. I enjoyed getting to know Marc over the course of the weekend. That’s one of things that I find most special about punk; for strangers from different sides of the planet to meet and connect like family. or some such overly romanticised ideal. Big Ade and Gav Ross nailed it and have got to be one of the tightest rhythm sections in the country, so natural. The ragtag band of misfits is expected to coalesce once more next summer and will be getting together for a bunch of shows, details of which will emerge over time. There is talk of getting involved in a pretty exciting little project too, so keep your eyes peeled for that one. On the subject of rad projects, we’ve got one being announced tomorrow that I’m sworn to secrecy about but it’s pretty fucking cool.

more dangerous finished

Our next Dundee show is one that I’m very excited about; it’s been a long time since we threw a good old fashioned basement punk rock party at Drouthy’s and that’s exactly what will be happening one week from today as we welcome the crushing touring French hardcore package of More Dangerous Than A Thousand Rioters from Strasbourg and Laval’s epic post-hardcore/noise merchants As We Draw to Dundee. They’ll be joined by Perth hardcore’s most maniacal Rope Spasm and Dundee’s modern melodic hardcore crew Condolences. The last full-blast show we threw at Drouthy’s was Dear Landlord way back in 2010 so it’ll be real good fun to get back our roots. We used to put on shows there all the time but haven’t done so much in recent years, so we are all stoked to be going back to the basement. It’ll be four bucks on the door and we’re hoping that you’ll join us for a classic sweaty little hardcore show of a Monday evening.

On the subject of Europe, our pals Bonehouse are currently out on tour on the mainland with Cornwall’s Crows An Wra. It was hoped that the Bonehouse “Tomorrow’s Worn Out Blues” LP would be ready in time for the tour but alas, we have been disappointed. The release of the record is a collaborative effort between a bunch of cool labels; Wolf Town DIY, Boslevan Records, Black Lake Records, Steady Anchor Records, Tief In Marcellos Shuld and Pint-Sized Collective. The first pressing of the record, limited to 500 copies, comes on “pick’n’mix” randomly coloured vinyl, so all records will be unique. The album was recorded by Ross Middlemiss and mastered by Robin Sutherland. Full order details will be forthcoming shortly.

Looking forward, Uniforms play our first show in 6 months and our first with Chic on drums at The Nerd Hutch in Newcastle on Halloween before coming to home to record over the weekend with Ross in Dundee. We’ll be recording four new songs for a 7″ that we plan to launch sometime around March next year. We’re then planning a little trip to Europe alongside our pals Get It Together in April, so keep your eyes and ears peeled as you’ll no doubt be getting balmed up about that shit before too long. Talking of GiT, their “Rebuild, Recover” 7″ EP is currently at press and is an absolute banger that I am very proud to be a part of bringing into life. Not only are those dudes one of the best new Scottish hardcore bands in some time, but they’re also some righteously solid dudes who know a thing or two about being in the punk rock trenches. The record is due to be released at Book Yer Ane Fest VIII when they play on Saturday 29th November at Kage, Dundee. The 7″ will come on classic black vinyl with full colour artwork from the wonderful WOLF MASK, as well as a digital download code and all the usual capers.

front previewGiven that there are a multitude of shows happening in Glasgow on Saturday 15th November, including shows from Against Me, The Ruts, Bob Mould and countless more, we thought it prudent to do the “honourable thing” (shameless cash-in? Shrewd Vince McMahon-like move?) and throw a late show on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. This will be the first show that we’ve put on ourselves in Glasgow and it’s a little bit of an experiment but, like with the vast majority of things we do and decisions we make, we thought “fuck it, why not?”. As such, we’ve pooled resources with our friends and both Uniforms and Get It Together will be joined by Glasgow’s The Jackhammers for a late show at The Cellars on Sauchiehall Street with doors opening at 10.30pm after the Against Me show has wrapped at The Garage. I hit Laura Jane Grace up on twitter and said we’d be stoked if the band wanted to come down after the show, so who knows what could happen? I should stress at this point that this late show is the 100% completely unofficial Against Me after-show party. You’ll get a quid off entry if you bring a ticket stub from any of the other shows happening in Glasgow that night. MTAT DJs, specifically Jimmy Wrizzle, will be manning the wheels of steel for what should be an interesting evening before we head off to Leeds to play the Sunday of Pie Race Festival.

late show

Right, that’s enough havering for the moment. I feel I’ve aged just writing this piece. There’s lots of shit going on with Book Yer Ane Fest VIII. Best keeping your eyes on the event page to keep up to date with everything that is going on there! Three Day Weekend Tickets are available in person and online from Groucho’s and e-tickets are available from the MTAT Bandcamp merch page.

I turn 32 later this month too. Fuck that noise.