Last week I started a new practice which I am calling the Reverie.
The Reverie is the attempt to naturalize one's habits and habitat; to undo the alienation of the spectacle and capitalism.
As someone born into a first-world country, my identity was stamped by capital at birth: my social security number and birth certificate are a brand. I was stamped, as well, but the social and natural worlds: the voices of my parents and doctors; the cool, dry air and warmth and light.
None of these were by choice. All of them I have struggled with. But now I choose to walk away from the struggle of capitalism -- I choose to Reverie.
To be more specific, the Reverie is an intentional practice of centering oneself in local time-space and internal motivations and abilities. All alienated relationships and commodities are to be rejected.
The Reverie is not a retreat or escape. Reveries are a regular practice that offers a contrast to life under capitalism; solidarity demands that we return to capitalism to take advantage of our privilege to better dismantle the systems of oppression that we are born into, unwittingly emulating and reproducing them.
Escapists who live as hermits, or are lucky enough to establish self-sustaining colonies, are not actually capable of dismantling capitalism, the kyriarchy, the state, or the many industrial complexes poisoning our world. This is the depressing, inescapable conclusion of anyone rationally weighing the material forces of First Peoples, AnPrims, primitive communists, etc. against globalized capitalism today.
Furthermore, the hypocritical AgitProp dependency on artificial machines of many primitavists -- from the left and right, from Mother Earth to Ted Kaczynski (yes, I just both-sides'd the whole horseshoe of militant ecology activism) -- demonstrates the ultimate contradiction of building dual power as a hardline primitavist.
As a final reason to not retreat into the wilderness, for this author and most readers, such a choice would not be imitated by most of our friends and family. We could break those ties, but it is more productive (and less painful) to re-imagine them as led by the Reverie.
(We cannot pretend to know whether capitalism or the planet themself will ultimately prevail, but take it as an axiom that the Earth felling capitalism by mutual exhaustion and destruction is not desired.)
Therefore, rather than slinking off to the few remaining wildernesses, the Reverie demands that we naturalize and re-wild our own relationships to ourselves, each other, and the world.
And then return to the belly of capitalim to continue the hard work of waking, organizing, and educating our larger social spheres.
In revitalizing our unalienated insticts by the Reverie, we can build a real and popular imagination regarding anti-capitalist lifestyle. We can define anti-capitalism as more than a vague opposition, but a constructive mode: what we do, with who, how, when we are away from capitalism. It is the seed of a new personal order, center, and wellness.
So what "alienated relationships and commodities" does the Reverie reject?
For taking more from the earth than we return to it:
- Single-use plastics and packaging
- Burning fossil fuels
- Consumption of capitalism's commodities in general
- Ever-increasing hunger for electricity, data, media, etc.
For destroying the natural health & happiness of humans, animals, and plants:
- Processed foods
- Meats and animal products
- Dependence on mind-altering substances
For stealing surplus value from labor, and thus alienating our labor:
- Using fiat currencies
- Interfacing with or legitimizing capitalism at all
For benefiting from stolen labor and resources, thus alienating our conscience:
- Consuming commodities produced by wage-labor, especially the most exploited
(i.e. it is better to consume good produced by a firm that pays workers well than one that ruthlessly exploits or enslaves them -- a basic lesson from the labor movement)
For depressing and dulling our creative instincts:
- Mass media
- Advertisements (avoid at all costs)
(the more surface, the worse; i.e. reading a book is better than scrolling through twitter)
- Nihilistic media about the inevitability of collapse or the hopelessness of struggle
- Accelerationist media
- Steaming media you could own locally & physically
So what can we do in a Reverie?
For rejecting the constant demand of productivity:
- Being open to serendipity
For imagining new ways of life:
For improving your life & local:
- Repurposing disused or neglected materials to build power (within or without capitalism) and self-sufficiency (outside capitalism)
- Nurturing the lives of humans, animals, and plants
- Imagining rather than consuming
- Creating rather than imagining
For anti-alienation and learning restraint:
- Food, clothing, and shelter that isn't ethically and sustainably sourced
- State-sourced utilities
- Using electronics, unless they are open-source & open-hardware
- Using any manmade tools you don't actually understand and fully control
Those are overlapping and contradictory!
Listen, maybe it's just the colonizer in me, but ask yourself: What would Jesus do?
The practice of Reverie is open to all, regardless of their ability to withdraw from capitalism (itself a privilege for us in the belly of the beast). Rejecting, denouncing, or demonizing those who are not are not yet as developed in Situationist/anti-capitalist thought and practice will only weaken the movement.
We celebrate and embrace a diversity of tactics. We demand you create the best version of yourself, not our best version -- we don't know, anyways. We emphasize our progress, not our setbacks. Capitalism has deeply entwined itself into modern life. To excise it requires careful, exploratory, disciplined, and constant experiments. Keep the faith.
Why not just create Situations and Dérives?
Situations and Dérives are fundamental SI practices. However, they are not focused on production. They explore the psychogeography, alienation, false desires, etc. etc. The SI was fundamentally opposed to all idealogies as the justification for economic modes. In contrast, the fundamental goal of regularly practicing Reverie is not to diagnose the illness of capitalism (an inherited and terminal illness), but to develop the wellness of life without capitalism.
In this way, the Reverie is intended as a productive mode, whereas this author interprets Situations and Dérives as fundamentally exploratory and celebratory modes. There is nothing wrong with that, and hopefully, we will continue to pursue Situations and Dérives. But the stark contrast between the essentially leisure-based traditional practices of the SI and the essentially power-building practice of the Reverie cannot be understated.
This is my primer. I hope you have learned something. I hope to hear about your Reverie and what you discovered. Stay tuned for reportbacks on mine. Solidarity!