I have a lot of thoughts about acid communism and not a lot of time to write. Here’s something brief inspired by Ajay Singh Chaudhary’s essay “Left-Wing Hypomania,” a call for realism in light of the new post-Trump bloodless optimism: “From uncertain celebration to fluctuating fixation, it is our inner depressive realists, our exhaustive selves, speaking to our collective effervescence.”
I know that collective effervescence seems to characterize acid communism as I and others have written about it. But there’s no singular affective mode of acid communism any more than there’s one paradigmatic type of psychedelic experience (although clichés of “the psychedelic experience” suggest otherwise). So acid communism might be a sort of radical realism that proceeds from a clear-eyed, unflinchingly honest acknowledgment of two links: first, the causal connection between capitalism and depression — Mark Fisher’s version. Second, the affinity between class consciousness and non-quotidian states of consciousness. That includes psychedelic inebriation, but also every other phenomenon that capital’s tools can’t tabulate and standardize for profit. These effects aren’t always bright and cheery. If anything, the work acid communism demands would be destabilizing and demoralizing. Just like any proper rite of passage — see Chaudhary:
Growing out of Melanie Klein’s “depressive position,” in which the individual finally faces up to the reality principle, depressive realism is the opposite of enforced optimism. (Melancholics against biopolitics).
Its principal incipient observation, inspired by Klein but carried out in experimental studies, was not so much that the depressed had some kind of intuitive understanding of the real world, but rather that “non-depressed people succumb to cognitive illusions that enable them to see both themselves and their environment with a rosy glow.” Pace the preachers of optimism from every corner, they found, much to their surprise, that depression did not inhibit action or perception of capability of action. Rather, it was the “cognitive illusions” and “rosy” outlook of the non-depressed that constantly impaired decision making.
At least one psychedelic scholar is sounding the alarm on inflated claims to the drugs’ anti-depressive efficacy. I can’t comment on that scientifically, but as the zeal for psychedelics grows, she probably has a point. She suggests that meditation and other “alternative” treatments are equally useful. At first glance they’d seem to imply more work than the nuclear option, but there’s no such thing as a painless route to illumination. Psychedelic experiences aren’t always fun.
Speaking of which… I can’t tell if this song is manic or depressive, but it reminds me that sadness is pellucid. It’s the feeling most devoted to the reality principle, but to reap those rewards, sad people have to drink a lot of it. Let it tone and fortify the spirit until its psychic contents dissolve in a stream of light. Political thought should have a similar clarifying purpose.
I don’t mean to make a fetish of melancholy (which Chaudhary warns against). To see things for what they are might be praxis or meditation; both terms work just fine.
I found this comment on the Bjork video after I finished writing this post: