07/01/22 | By Phoebe Matthews


Profane Illuminations: Hope

It’s an incredible challenge to hope in an age filled with an overwhelming feeling that we are fundamentally unfree in countless evolving and changing ways. As someone who sits on this strange margin of organized labor and the philosophy of history, I struggle under the weight of this challenge sometimes. When each victory is marked by the emergence of new struggle against forces with inconceivable wealth and power, when all of this is placed against the heavily regulated and mediated horizons of opportunity in our contemporary moment, when all this has resigned revolutionary potential into the past, dead and buried. It’s led me to consider how one hopes when we feel this way.

What does it mean to hope when you feel so isolated?

When this isolation brings a sense of displacement within your own lived experiences that acts as a motion blurring effect on your day-to-day life. We wander from low wage to low wage, from screen to screen, voyagers on the insomniac drift of cyberspace, firmly within the grasp of something but something that is defined by its own absences.

No future.

No hope.

Not for me.

A central function of neoliberal ideology is the drowning out of dissenting voices and alternatives, and the critique of dysfunction only emerges from those willing to actively contest it. If we’re to rescue history from the rebel of the past, we must do so by actively seeking it out and digging it up. To quote one of the central inspirations for our little show here, Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch: “The truth of history is, therefore, not an abstraction but the ongoing process of the emergence of the concrete and the growing together of contingency into necessity.”

So, how do I begin to hope for a future beyond my temporal limitations?

How do I begin to hope at all?

1. I organize with my class across a spectrum of marginality to defend, redeem, and make history.

When I organize with my class I am the living embodiment and generative expression of human agency, meaning when I organize with my class I am organizing across time and with those before me, pressing against the grain of the mode of production that keeps me so isolated from my peers and alone in my struggles for freedom and security. That same contemporary moment that seeks to reduce our sense of self so much that it stands on the head of a pin. History no longer becomes the stuff of the past when I stand with others against the tide of capitalist inevitability. As a worker, I have been given a lifetime sentence of productive relations and my only way out is to organize to become free.

2. I live historically by contesting my own atomization.

I do this by placing myself in common and by so contest and reclaim the commons itself. Contesting the generative commons means communisms across dimension, contesting the generative commons means mobile militancy. It means life and work as the interlocking of struggles into a menacing multi-tendrilled assemblage that crawls across history as a constant lingering threat.

3. I become a repository for the stuff of history, through the wreckage of the past and my own class experiences.

As I continue my mandatory march through time I can redeem each passing moment for its intrinsic fullness by living an affirmation of my agency and through my relationship to the infinite that sits beyond our contemporary circumstances and my own imagination. I can find hope in the greater struggle for a better future by connecting to the past via my class position.

In short, the cause of labor is the hope of the world.

And it is in that hope that I might find a place by which a new magnificent horizon comes into view.

Profane Illuminations is a Gothic Marxist show about seeking the material circumstances of our shared situation.

Hosted by @thelitcritguy and @laborkyle.


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