Sometimes you come across something and think: fuck, I wish I’d written that. Well…
Our starting point is clear. This is the end of a world, and if we are to raise ourselves up to the height of the disaster, to truly confront the devastation in progress, it is up to us, everywhere, to build the new worlds that will replace this one. Not worlds like the old worlds, not worlds like this world, but —beginning from where we are, using all our available means— new, sensible worlds that will take on their own particular shapes. We have accepted a state of frantic isolation and dependence because it seems inevitable. It’s not. Sometimes the magnitude of the devastation we face seems insurmountable. It’s not.
Taken from Woodbine1882 this short but dazzling text reads like a manifesto, a statement of desire, a demand and a user’s manual to a post-nihilist revolutionary praxis. There are a few moments in the text where I stumble, where something jars, where the real of our reality tends to slide back into talk of dwelling that is at once comforting and an echo of the dubious politics of Heideggarian deep ecology. Nonetheless this short text is clearly part of the post-nihilist tendency. It begins at the same place we begin, where we all must begin: with the end. The end of this civilization that coincides with the Anthropocene is coded in the Instructions according to the phenomenological thetics of “world”. Like Heidegger’s animals, we are all world-poor now.
From the apocalypse arises poetry, but the Instructions don’t stop at poetry. There are literal instructions to be found at the start of each section: begin from the real; be strategic; develop techniques; build power/build autonomy; don’t be afraid, go ahead; start now. This can all be compressed into our eternal refrain of “build from the ruins”. The concrete examples are also those that accord with much of our own thinking: occupations, mutual aid organisations, autonomous (psycho)pharmacology, an archipelago of survival programs out of which humane ways of living after the catastrophe can flourish, as well as the spread of hackspaces and re-skilling. They call our attention to Chiapas and other regions where autonomy is being practiced rather than celebrated as a temporary occasion in the psycho-interior.
Woodbine features more texts, a manifesto and, in terms of its organised practical engagements, is more advanced than syntheticzero could be. We are distributed across the Earth’s screaming surface, while the Woodbine collective are already engaged in the mutative experimentation of bricolage and salvagepunk.
My own accelero-hallucinations exceed these minimal beginnings: An ecologistics capable of producing an infrastructural politics;the deployment of a less naively optimistic (dark) solarpunk libertarian technics; the speculative prospect of transpessimism; the rediscovery and elevation of an ethic of care that might become a generalised Buen Vivir; the active production of autonomous subjectivations that exist outside the constrictions of psychological orthodoxies; and the transcorporeal sapience of machinic coexistence.
Alongside all this the overcoming of both capitalism and the state, and the creation of new modes of coordinating and organising different existential rhythms across stratification and scale without any principle mastery or pretense of vanquishing vulnerability in the last instance. In other words, speaking only for myself (which is already more-than-one), the user’s manual for post-nihilist revolution praxis culminates in a virulently mutative ecocommunist anarchism.
When we started out it sometimes felt like we were alone. The darkness of talking about already living after the collapse and within catastrophic time, of being already post-apocalyptic, and of the collapse of all meaning and comfort, of passing into a moribund age of survival, and the objectification of nihilism. But with that came the joyful realisation of sensibility, the choreography of a transcorporeal flesh, and the materio-energetic coupling of bodies with their own affordances and practical significances.
Well, certainly I felt that we were in the minority. But with the work of groups like Woodbine and Out of the Woods, it feels like we are on the trajectory to a minoritarian majority.