this text was first written in 2013 by one of us and later published by Hostis in their first edition in 2014.
We hereby reject any form of self-imposed austerity. We posit that we want nice shit for everybody and that is not only feasible but desirable. We will not put forth graphs announcing how much work (or not) will require such a project but will state that such a project is part of our desire for communism. We hereby reject all forms of feigned punk slobbiness, neo-hippie shabby chic, or pajamas in the outdoors. We see the stores in the bourgeois parts of town (& the newly-gentrified ones too) and say that we want that shit and even more. Capitalism is that which stands in the way of us having the shit we want with its hoarding of commodities only to sell them to highest bidder. We’ve been told to live with less and less by not only Green Capital, but by the Church, by our liberal “friends” and even by fellow comrades. Fuck that shit. Nah: if we’re going to be putting our shit out on the line it’s definitely not going to be so that I can live simply.
Is this commodity-fetishism? Yes, of the worst kind. Mainly, it’s the kind that does not want to maintain capitalist social relations, but one that seeks to destroy them. We’ve been living without and we want to remedy this situation. Do we also want to live with the deepest, most sensual set of social relations: yes. But why must we choose between the two? The destruction of capitalism, for communism, will leave us with so much time to cultivate ourselves, our tastes, our desires. Pre-capitalist peoples did not dress themselves in tunics of ash gray or shave their heads en masse. It is capitalism which has made our self-fashioning so impoverished; though glimmers of indulgent self-fashioning sometimes does grace the streets; sadly only to be homogenized, recuperated and sold back to an indiscriminate consumer. It is capitalism which has accustomed us to bland food & drink, or tricked us into paying top dollar at the co-op.
It is capitalism which has us moving our IKEA furniture from apartment to apartment. We imagine all the home furnishings to be plundered. Capitalism in its poverty of ideas, by way of colonialism, plunges itself into our indigenous cultures and sells us back what it took from us. We still remember that we used to build structures that still stand while cheap buildings kill so many now in disasters. We still remember that European colonialism spread its tentacles across the world because it was without and we lived in such wealth (after it had plundered its own).
“I want to shed myself of my first-world privilege and not live confined by how capitalism wants me to.” If only it were so simple. We’ve actually read this sentence (though its intent we’ve seen many, many times). This is pure reactionary thought. To run and do the opposite just because capitalism displays certain social features does not make one an anti-capitalist. It makes you a petit-bourgeois bohemian. We all want to not pay rent, or pay for food, or have to work so many hours of our lives but there is no outside of capitalism. Asceticism is not revolutionary. Even those nodes of “autonomy” scattered around the globe, like among the Zapatistas, or Marinaleda, Spain still have to contend with the fact that Capital has them surrounded. But we will not squat our way to a revolution. Squatting, dumpster-diving, train-hopping, stealing from work, work slowdowns are not acts of revolt but of resistance. Thus we understand that the nice shit will not come until capitalism is done with, because little acts of appropriation will not really get the goods as we see fit.
This is no mere provocation: it is part of our intent. Communism, for us, is not as we were taught in schools: the general immiseration of everyone, but as Marx so eloquently put forth in 1845, “the real movement that abolishes the present state of things.” The present state of things is poverty, hunger, work, racialized social death, gendered violence, the unmitigated murder of transgender people, the free movement of goods but not people and the general immiseration of everyday life.
Further, a critique of consumerism (& likewise Capital) that only asks us to consume less misses the trees for the forest. Capital would have us consume less only to appease our consumer guilt. Let us not be fooled, Capital necessitates eternal growth and this growth is done on terms that will destroy us regardless of how much (or little) we buy. Capital has made a sin of our desires because they inevitably know that it cannot satisfy them. To each according to their need, and to each according to their desire. We contend with capitalist logic and aim for the unreasonable because capitalist logic would have us cut ourselves from our ludic, indulgent dreams.