Many trees in the wood…


It was after I watched the video of the Guardian event tackling the question Is Capitalism Dead? that it dawned on me that the premise of this blog will have to change if the answer is ‘yes’. A sense of frustration is intrinsic to the question of whether change is possible, yet the focus shifts to new territory altogether if we accept that the old order we rail against is actually passing. Rather than concentrating on resistance and struggle, the emphasis becomes more creative, more about what we want to see replace it and how we are going to achieve it.

Speaking at the end of the discussion that was based around the ideas in his book Postcapitalism, Paul Mason said that if he’s wrong, and capitalism hasn’t had its day, then there has got to be a better version of it. But if he’s right, and capitalism is bust, then we have to start looking for and nurturing the alternatives.

But how easy will this be? Recently, a couple of discussions I’ve been part of have taken us edge of that place of imagining alternatives, and it’s become evident how much easier it is to point out what’s wrong with the current system. I was talking to Mike about how inadequate our individual and collective imaginations seemed and and he told me that Simon Critchley in Faith of the Faithless argues that a city, or a nation only exists through our imagination. If that’s the case, and the system we are in requires our imagination, then is it any surprise that our imaginations are so weak, he asked.

This difficulty of making the transition beyond the mental framework shaped by the current system to a new space that draws on constructive and imaginative thinking has implications personally. I spent a day and night at a beautiful country retreat just outside Leeds with some friends and in the morning sat on the small verandah looking at the woods that surrounded the small hut where I stayed. Staring at the trees it struck me that there were many that formed the wood – and that while grief, pain and loss are all present in me, they are no longer the sum of me. I have a growing sense that I need to focus on and nurture other aspects of my life that are beginning to emerge slowly.

What can we do to remedy this individually and collectively? I am trying to re-imagine my life, to dream of what it might be after the devastation of losing Mark while beginning, slowly, to rebuild. I find it hard to remain in a place of hope, of creativity, and often sadness and a sense of loss clouds my vision when I try to look ahead. Part of me is mourning, grieving, sad and alone and will be for some time to come. But I want to nurture that part of me that is capable of dreaming of and building a new life – that’s something many of us will have to do if we are to make the transition to new ways of living and being amid the rubble of capitalism.

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