Reading articles on Ultra is always a delight–they are one of the rare radical writing collectives that combine illustrative flair with rigorous, concrete analysis. I particularly enjoyed their most recent essay, “Swoosh”, not least because the conclusions are highly in sync with things I’ve been thinking about lately on the practical needs of revolutionary struggle outside of romantic insurrectionary uprisings, protest movements, etc.
[Capitalism] is not a purely destructive system, of course. These lifelines are, in a literal sense, the currently existing lifelines of the human species. Destroying the economy is only a reasonable endeavor if it is clear—not even to the general public, but to the people who advocate it—that this does not entail mass starvation and widespread rationing of whatever consumer durables could be wrenched from the rubble. Of course the project is a war, one that we are already in, even as everyone intuitively prepares for it to suddenly happen. But in order for this war to have any recognizable communist pole, it must, on our part, be a war against want. The most important front in such a war is not the heroism of military struggle, but instead the distinctly unromantic work of helping to break down and re-engineer what we inherit in that war, so that our species’ unprecedented efficiency in producing food, flyknits and other nice shit might actually be put to some use other than the world-fucking expansion of value…
The flyknits, then, also signal something brighter. They hint at the promise of this second, more fundamental war—where victory doesn’t mean living with less in the name of equitability, but instead dank footwear for everyone for free. This is Yacht Communism, the only thing worth fighting for. Against the pre-lapsarian bemoaning of the modern era—in all its many forms, from oogles to ISIS—Yacht Communism argues that everyone should just be able to have nice shit. That’s it. Fully automated luxury communism.
A fundamental point here is that radicals need to get down and dirty with the hard, grinding work of how to effectively and efficiently use the means of production–what I would argue to be the real content of a revolutionary struggle, above and beyond the standard militarist conception of revolution as storming the White House or whatever.
In the long-term, this means building the potential for a communist counter-logistics out of practical knowledge. Engineering, programming, agriculture (like, actual agriculture, not your shitty organic garden), construction, metallurgy and math—basically a list of things the left is currently allergic to—are all absolutely foundational. Only with actual skills, often gained through work, does the abstract knowledge of these chokepoints become relevant, since sabotage and occupation can then be paired with attempts to build territories.
This line of argument is something that has stuck with me more and more over the past few years, and the main reason I’ve retreated from attending street demonstrations and rallies and whatever (fun as they might be) and trying to think more about how to build develop a political economy of autonomous, proletarian institutions. Hence, I’m much more interested in projects like hackerspaces and movements around developing energy democracy, than I am in hanging out and yet another mundane street theater event designed to “raise awareness” or whatever.