Further reflections on Uncivilisation 2011 after reading other reports

Since I posted my own initial reflections on the festival on this blog (Camping, conversation and conviviality)I have read quite a few others and found them very interesting and illuminating. Although there are some similarities in the reflections it is clear to me that there were subjectively many parallel festivals depending on what each person brought to the party – their previous knowledge and dispositions, their interests and concerns, the forms of language they constructed their experiences through and so on. Re-reading my own reflections after reading these others I find that, from the point of view of many, I may have rather missed the point! One piece that articulated some of my concerns was that by  Andrew Lainton –

He starts by quoting from the Dark Mountain Manifesto

We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’….
We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies.

Given the main question I had about much of what I heard and enjoyed at the festival – where is the politics in all this – I can now perhaps see why this didn’t seem to resonate with anyone outside the immediate circle of friends I went to the festival with and why my blog post now seems a little out of kilter with the general tenor of most of the others post I have read. I hasten to say that I only partially recognise Andrew’s characterisation of the festival and my experience seems to have been much more positive. But I too am looking for a constructive way forward from our current critique and understanding of the capitalist dystopia we are living in. I would take a more positive interpretation of the quoted manifesto. Rejecting the faith that we can reduce our crisis to a set of problems that can be solved with technological and political solutions does not necessarily mean rejecting technology and political thinking and activism as part of what is needed. In any case, it is by now quite clear that what is required are significant social, political, economic and personal changes that go way beyond any possible technological and managerial solutions to environmental problems. And I do not see, as Andrew implies, that the Dark Mountain project in its latest development is necessarily or inevitably anti-civilisation and a deeply primitivist turn. As the session on Luddism made clear, it was not a rejection of technology per se, but of technology that destroyed sociality and conviviality. And the desire not to lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies (and I would be interested in how this distinction is to being made) does not preclude the necessity to engage in some theoretical and/or ideological work. After all the development of ideologies is the elaboration of meaning and the process whereby it becomes our commonsense and the taken-for-granted background to the conduct of our everyday lives. The battle against fascism, growthism, corporatism, the Washington consensus, the power of neoliberal ideology (so powerful that the neoliberal category of the individual was alive and well in many of the discussions at the festival) must also be fought at the level of ideology.

Simultaneously posted on the Dark Mountain community website: http://uncivilisation.ning.com/profiles/blogs/reflections-on-uncivilisation-2011

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