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Manifesto of the Dionysian Socialist Collective

Manifesto of the Dionysian Socialist Collective

Preamble – in order to establish a free association artistic community based on the affirmation and cultivation of desires, the heightening of overflowing life, creative collaboration, mutual aide, and the eventual overthrow of capitalism we do affirm the following:

Founding Principles

1. All desire is holy.

2. All expression is creation is divine.

3. There is no god but nature. There is no god; all the gods exist.

4. There is no purpose in nature; it is all just matter and energy arranged in various ways.

5. Because there is no purpose in nature, the only value and meaning that exist is that which is created by those with the capacity for desire.

6. It is via the work of art, taken in the broadest sense, that desires are capable of establishing and communicating value.

7. By communicating value, art forms the basis for collectively shared meaning..

8. The values art creates are neither universal, nor necessary, and are therefore not unconditional.

9. Via a diversity of artistic styles, conflicting and contradictory values can coexist.

10. Human flourishing consists in the capacity to create, experience, and celebrate freely created art which is capable of enacting and celebrating a diversity of values that reflect the multiplicity of desire in a non-uniform community of mutual aide.

11. Desires and values enter into relationships of power with one another; thus every relationship between those who value and desire is a differential relationship of power. Power in itself is neither good nor bad, but all power is productive.

Politics

1. Suffering that produces art has value. Pointless suffering that does not produce art or meaning is ugly and cruel.

2. Capitalism and nationalism produce suffering and inhibit artistic creation for all but the wealthy and powerful, and therefore capitalism and nationalism must be resisted in the service of art and meaning creation for all.

3. The work day, private property, wage labor, the nuclear family, enforced monogamy, and the nation-state are all enemies of desire, art, culture, and human flourishing.

4. There is no necessary conflict between an individualism which allows for self-autonomy and a collectivism which provides for the common need and the collective good.

5. We reject idealistic utopianism and pragmatic reformism in equal measure.

6. Instead we seek to establish a community capable of affirming a plurality of desires through artistic creation and mutual aide against the power structures that inhibit the formation of such communities.

7. In such a community, working for incremental improvements exists side by side with principled revolutionary goals.

8. We seek broad solidarity without compromising our vision. This requires acceptance of ambiguity, comfort with lack of certainty, and acknowledgment that a balance must be struck between adherence to principles and acceptance of a diversity values and viewpoints. Neither principles nor diversity take priority, and there is always a constant interplay and dialectic between the two.

9. As a few individuals with little power or money, we seek first to create locally and small, while nevertheless maintaining world-historical, radically revolutionary ultimate goals.

10. The elimination of class hierarchy, the nation-state, and imperialism allows cosmopolitanism and globalism to combine with local autonomy to allow for productive cultural exchange and mutually beneficial cross-pollination of ideas instead of cultural appropriation and continued oppression.

11. Oppression and inequality on the basis of race, gender, sexuality (among others) are especially corrosive to the collective good and produce an excess of pointless suffering. They must be resisted.

Artistic Creation

1. Art is the transformation of desire into perceptual and conceptual content via an act of creation.

2. Art, in our sense, is broad enough to include the traditional fine and performing arts in addition to folk arts, outsider arts, the entirety of the literary arts and creative uses of language, public gatherings, festivals, celebrations, and… The list cannot be exhausted.

3. Any theoretical or practical engagement with art requires acknowledging and taking into account artistic creation, artistic experience, and most importantly the intersection between the two.

4. Therefore, even the most individual and personal artistic works and creations are also at the same time communal.

5. Truly communal festival celebrations, intentional intoxication, sexuality, limit experiences, and the joyful destruction of established values and pieties have the capability of intensifying feeling and allow for new creations and new interpretations of existence.

6. Art must be independent of commercial values and the interests of the ruling class to adequately express the desires of the artist and not become commodified in a way that merely reproduces the political-economic power system it seeks to resist and overcome.

6. The independent artist requires the means to acquire the necessities of survival and the material conditions of artistic creation. The artist also requires time for rest, for the activity of creation, for developing relationships, and perhaps most easily overlooked, for experiencing life as intensely and freely as possible.

7. Artistic creation requires the physical space for crafting, assembling, producing, performing, displaying, and experiencing. The independent artist requires such spaces that are free from conservative and reactionary pressures that inhibit desire and censor its expression.

8. In conditions of late-capitalism and the pressures these conditions put on artistic free spirits, revolutionary and liberating art and living must be cultivated and maintained against the pressures that seek to undermine these possibilities of radical change and human flourishing.

Existential Communal Individualism

1. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” needs to be appended with “and no more than is necessary than each requires for the opportunity to thrive.”

2. Unless we cannot account for and recognize the importance of small and simple pleasures—like the enjoyment that an old man sipping a glass of wine experiences at the end of the day, our activity and goals are worthless.

3. After the imperative “Do no irreparable harm,” the next and only other imperative is “Do not be boring.” Being interesting and taking interest in the world are more important than avoiding all harm. This is a dangerous ethic, however, because for it to be successfully and decently implemented requires having a careful and nuanced understanding of “irreparable harm.” Being willing to harm someone in order to avoid being boring could conceivably be used to justify awful cruelties.

4. Still, don’t be boring. Be curious. Do not avoid danger; seek it out in order to experience new limits and the joy in overcoming these constraints.

5. As Kant observed, two things fill the mind with wonder, the immensity of starry sky above and the moral law within. It must be added that the moral law within is a law only to oneself and is neither necessary, unconditional, nor universal. Experiment with your conscience. Experiment with your heart. Practice being maximally indifferent and maximally concerned at the same time.

6. Nevertheless, we counsel this maxim for universal application: care about the significant things. Do not care about the insignificant things.

6a. Be creative with what you call significant and insignificant, for there can be no objective criteria that determines what counts as significant and insignificant.

7. Avoid the workday as much as possible and live on as little money and resources as possible to still be able to enjoy and create.

8. “I prefer not to” as the key to living significantly and resisting the oppression of capitalism and the nation-state.

9. Abolish marriage, one and two-person parenting, gender norms, and the precarity of individual self-reliance for the means of survival.

10. Conceive of new ways to express the self. Experiment with style, affect, worldview, and identity.

Practical First Steps:

1. The political is a macro-relation comprised of a collective of individuals. As individuals we cannot directly choose the direction and configuration of political change. Therefore, politics at the existential level is a practice of and an attempt to live well.

2. To live well requires that one have access to the material conditions of survival and flourishing and connection to a community of shared values.

2a. Once an individual life is lived with others in a community of shared values, the possibilities of being intentionally political are magnified.

3. Communal living and cooperatively owned and operated spaces (until Capitalism falls) are the best means for finding the same time leaving time for creative, intellectual, and hedonistic pursuits both in solitude and with friends and comrades.

4. First practical proposal: seek out like-minded individuals until the resources and individuals that are needed come together to occupy, reside in, and operate a communal space with the means for self-sustaining flourishing under the current conditions of late-Capitalism.

5. We will seek out a combined residential and commercial space in an urban area. Living areas will be communally shared by enough individuals to collectively operate the commercial space as a leftist artist cafe which will be communally owned and operated and will feature music, visual art, philosophy, and spoken word as well as provide a space for political and community groups with shared values.

6. We seek to operate a publishing wing out of this space, which will maintain a web presence, publish a quarterly review as well as books under its imprint. Its scope will be broad enough to include leftist politics, accessible non-academic philosophy and theory, art, fiction, poetry, and other works of interest to the Dionysian Socialist movement and those with whom we have solidarity.

Long Term Utopian Goals:

1. Transform a low occupancy neighborhood into an artist commune without displacing the current residents or locally owned businesses or otherwise gentrifying the neighborhood.

1a. Thus the creation of such neighborhoods must be accompanied by a fight for radical housing rights, rent control (or the abolition of rent), abolition of the police and prisons, and resistance to development that exploits current residents in order to enrich Capital.

2. Incubate conditions under which artists (in the broadest possible sense) can operate outside the pressures of consumerism and late-Capitalism.

3. Eventually form confederations of free-association with other communities and neighborhoods seeking compatible goals.

4. Expand the power of such neighborhoods and communities both in their own sphere and collectively until they are capable of replacing exploitative capital and the state to provide individuals, neighborhoods, cities, and towns with the material means of survival and flourishing.

We, the Dionysian Socialist Collective, do affirm these principles and goals in order to affirm life and create the conditions under which we are able to flourish and live well with one another. In solidarity with all free-spirits and those whose desire is inhibited by the scourge of capitalism, we seek to create a new world out of the old, affirming the whole as we go. And so we drink to the Dionysian festival to come.

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It’s all just Matter and Energy Arranged in Various Ways

I am a strict “it’s all just matter and energy arranged in various ways” kind of materialist, not the vulgar reductionist kind that skips the “various ways” part of the equation, but completely unwilling to countenance the existence of a separate transcendent plane of being that influences, interacts with, directs, or gives meaning to our very material reality. Just a single flat plane of immanence in which all things are. A kind of Spinozistic monism shot through with modern physics, Nietzschean will to power, and Heidggerian “being-there.”

Let me explain. God does not exist. Nature is not caused or created by something outside of nature. There are no mystical causes or transcendent effects. It really is all just matter and energy arranged in various ways. Photons, protons, electrons, and all the other particles that makes up our best explanations for things. What physics attempts to understand is what is. Nevertheless…

Quetzalcoatl Aztec god of wisdom. God is dead.
God is dead. Long live the gods.

Yes, demons, gods, fates, furies, muses, Bodhisattvas, and chimeras do exist, but their existences are determined by the flows of matter and energy between actually existing material individuals—the Sun, a human body, a baseball, the drop of dew on the wing of a hummingbird in the morning, which despite being “things” are nevertheless ephemeral, temporary, and always in flux. Heraclitus was right, you can never step in the same river twice; that’s true, and you can also only fuck the same lover once, embrace the same mother once, give alms to the same beggar once, and write a single word only once. All of these prosaic, everyday things and their seemingly mystical, mythical counterparts like Dionysus, the Great Pan, Yahweh, Ba’al, Kali, Quetzalcoatl, Minerva, and Loki are just ever-changing material flows that have a capacity to affect other flows and be affected by still other flows in turn. Flows of shit, flows of oil, flows of wine, sperm, sea water, menstrual blood and the blood from wounds, flows of mud, quicksand, chicken stock, fish guts, and clear plum brandy. Flows of gravity, flows of dark matter, flows of ionizing particles released by the sun, their speeds exceeding the solar escape velocity. Flows of language, pheromones, hormones, stomach acid, bile, intestinal bacteria, and neurotransmitters. Flows even of photons reflected off the surface of bodies and emanating from the destruction of matter rejecting of the dualism of particle and wave.

What physics studies is all there is, but all there is exceeds physics’ (or any human knowledge) ability to understand or categorize it. Just because Dionysus and Apollo and all the rest are not literal, eternal persons who walk and talk and have a will doesn’t mean they are not real; just don’t think they are magic, spiritual, mystical or transcendent. Just like any human construct, the names of the gods, angels, demons, faeries, sprites, djinn, demigods, heroes, souls, wizards, witches, warlocks, phoenixes, and dragons do not refer to the actual existence of things; they refer to capacities for matter and energy to affect and be affected. Once we realize, along with Spinoza, the prince of philosophers, that God and nature are one and the same, room is opened for a new materialist religion and spirituality. The gods are holy because they stand in for our awe, our wonder, our understanding, our overcomings, and our best (and worst) selves. They stand for the way that the whole of all nature or even little bits of nature exceed our ability to perceive, let alone comprehend. So we can stand in holy reverence for real things, the only things that exist. Pour out offerings for the earth, the sky, and our own list of struggles and overcomings. And such religions, rooted as they must be in what’s real, instead of giving us moral cover to deny reality, force us to engage with the world as it is, including its injustice and suffering, affirming what is—as it is—and attempting to transform it and give it meaning from within at the same time. We can do no other. And if all of this seems a bit too serious, remember that it’s all just matter and energy arranged in various ways.