A Summary of: Solarpunk, Acid Communism, Capitalist Co-opting, and Learning From The Counterculture
A quick introduction and summary of the points of the main piece.
I wanted to make a TL;DR guide on my latest long-form piece: Solarpunk, Acid Communism, Capitalist Co-opting, and Learning From The Counterculture just because it’s so long, and I want to make it easier for people to get the gist. I encourage you to read the full piece, but maybe some of the summaries will get you interested to dive in.
Also have some digital art mixed in there and some resources and cool people to follow or read in the credits.
Hope you read the full thing, and keep working towards a better future!
In the article, I wanted to show some of the links and background that I don’t think get talked about often about the start of the early 60s counterculture. I wanted to challenge the assumptions many people have about the counterculture and point out that the counterculture and psychedelic revolution of the 1960’s would not have happened without the contributions of Black and Indigenous people.
Going into things and talking about who really influenced history, the reasons why psychedelics are even known, and some of the things that often get overlooked when people talk about the psychedelic scene and the counterculture as a whole.
I don’t think the counterculture of the 60s failed at all, and really it was just the first spark that would create our social and political landscape of today. It was the first time where civil rights of all marginalized groups came together.
There is a lot we can learn from the countercultural mistakes and take that and combine it with a modern form of politics. A real reworking of politics to not slip back into lost futures, or rehash the same tactics of old leftist politics. To come up with a new way to envision the future. Mark Fishers’ last work was about an idea he had of “Acid Communism”. He sadly passed away while working on the idea, and right in the middle of his lecture series Post Capitalist Desire. I wanted to interpret his work so far and build on some of the ideas. In this building, I think about how capitalism infiltrates groups and ideas and some methods of strengthening movements against capitalist co-option.
In general I think we need a new way of looking at the world. The stakes are too high not to imagine new ways of politics that don’t fall to capitalism and also don’t fall into the old ways of authoritarian communism. I offer some ideas of what Acid Communism could be categorized as and build on the idea of libidinal marxism. My own interpretations on Acid Communism and the importance of showing people through art, music, and literature the future instead of just telling them to read obscure theory. How can we cultivate a new idea of leftist politics that leaves behind authoritarianism, central leadership, and cold bureaucracy and instead work to embrace a politics rooted in individual and collective freedom, horizontal democracy, and putting an end to domination.
Stressing that political change won’t happen if we don’t change our social relations. Most of the ills in our world can be boiled down to a couple of core issues that act as foundations to other issues and interconnect.
In the end, I tie in some ideas about prefigurative futures that fall into the ideas of Acid Communism, specifically solarpunk. Talk about my own conceptions of the growing genre and some ideas I think tie well together and ideas from looking at the failures of the counterculture to actually try and build a better future.
Narrative Flow / Section Gist:
Who influenced the influencers?
I start out talking about Jazz and blues music as a method of protest through art and how Jazz and the blues came to influence not only the music of the 60s, the counterculture, and psychedelic culture - but the entire social landscape and culture.
Going through how jazz and blues music would morph into rhythm and blues and then into rock and roll, but also showing how the involvement with capitalism in those genres mirrored how capitalism copies and defangs radical ideas.
There is a connection between jazz and the beat generation, who would directly inspire the 60s counterculture and directly lead to the psychedelic movement.
The early counterculture came together because of marginalized people coming together. Black jazz musicians, beat generation poets, underground Queer communities, early feminist housewives, motorcycle clubs, war vets, scientists, chemists, academics, dropouts, rebels, artists, poets, political activists, and weirdos all ended up creating the wave of the 60’s counterculture.
It’s interesting to see how jazz influenced the start of the psychedelic scene and how psychedelics came to influence jazz in a large interconnected cycle. Also showing how there were people connected in these different realms and all in general had ties to other people in some really interesting ways.
Also included is a history of how psychedelics came into western science from indigenous people and show the people who truly were responsible for psychedelics to ever reach outside of strictly scientific and medical settings. A Mazatec healer named Maria Sabina and the Indigenous people of the southwest along with the Native American Church.
Hippies, Psychedelic Rock, Political action and the Summer of Love
This section talks more about how psychedelics made it into the mainstream and how the counterculture grew rapidly. Acid tests being done in communal living experiments, writers, and artists who started flocking to the change. The first psychedelic rock venue and show with The Red Dog Experience. Also highlighting some of the radical politics that was growing and exploding at the time and going into detail to show how all of those struggles were interconnected with the psychedelic revolution and the antiwar movement.
Going through the summer of love and the start of the cultural phenomenon of the “hippie” and also showing what some called “the death of the hippie” from the eyes of the early counterculture.
Weaving through the late 60s and early 70s, the rise of political movements and the rise of Neoliberalism and the backlash to the counterculture.
Part 2: Capitalist Co-opting, Killing the Counterculture, Subcultures, and What Went Wrong?
This section goes into detail about how capitalism took over and eventually killed the countercultural waves but not the political movements of the day. Also showing that the movement would have succeeded if the state had not interfered, jailed, or assassinated people to stop the tides of change.
I go into some observations across different places on how capitalism gains control in movements and how it breaks them down, including a pattern that I’ve seen play out multiple times.
Talk about how capitalism changed and morphed advertising to use the counterculture as a testing ground for neoliberal capitalism and some of the strategies it used to do it. Going into how movements and ideas are fractured and how subcultures play a role in capitalism.
Also go into more detail into reasons I see why most political parties failed or started to fail at this time, and some of the internal issues that led to things not panning out. I also make sure to add nuance and focus things around the material conditions of the time, and be sure to show that without state intervention, the counterculture would have created an entirely different world. (By counterculture here I mean the countercultural movement, psychedelic movement and political and civil rights movements)
Also go into some core ideas and issues that movements face along with thoughts on social and political change needing to be a fundamental shift in social relations before political change can happen.
Part 3: Post Capitalist Desire, Acid Communism, and The Politics of The Anthropocene Future.
In this section, I build on an idea characterized by Mark Fisher and Jeremy Gilbert called “Acid Communism”. Or alternative Post Capitalist Desire, which was the name of the lecture series Mark Fisher did before his work was cut short from his tragic death. Building on his ideas of a kind of psychedelic socialism, and exploring the acid part to maybe mean using entheogens like LSD or an acidification of communism into something new.
I go through and add on some political thought that lines up with the curriculum of Mark Fishers’ lecture series, and attempt to shine a light on the underlying idea of combining a form of libertarian socialism through art, music, and literature.
Also wanted to add some ideas about breaking capitalist realism, injecting social change into art, and escaping the new echo chambers we find ourselves locked into on social media.
How do we address hierarchy, patriarchy, domination, and violence with a modified libertarian socialism and combine both identity politics and class politics together to make a holistic approach. While also critiquing identity politics on their own (girl boss capitalism) and class politics on their own (red-brown alliances, etc.)
The key is that intersectionality is at the core of change. And to have that change we have to change our fundamental social relations from capitalistic and exploitative ones to social relations based on mutual aid.
I also go into some ideas in how to stop capitalist co-opting and some tips that might make it harder for capital to creep into your life.
Solarpunk, Eco-Fiction, Futurism and Acid Communism
In the end, I talk about future conceptions and a new(ish) idea popping up called solarpunk that fits almost perfectly in the idea of Acid Communism. I talk about what solarpunk is to me and how it has some unique viewpoints at combining nature with social change, technology, regeneration, and new futures. With some added critiques of technological progress, ideas around degrowth, and questioning how the future will look.
I more than likely will write a full article specifically about solarpunk, the good, the bad, and some ideas about how it can spur change.