[essay] The Watermelon Manifesto: Solarpunk and a future worth fighting for

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The Watermelon Manifesto (solarpunk and a future worth fighting for)

The culture around us, most especially the worlds of speculative fiction and independent music, is replete with trends ending in -punk, representing alternative visions of the world, and one of the newest, having entered the public discourse only about five years ago, is solarpunk. But aren’t there enough of these punks floating around already? What is it that makes solarpunk so special?

Put simply, solarpunk is a rupture with these other subcultural trends because it presents an alternative vision of the world which is both desirable and achievable, unlike its predecessors. For example, steampunk presents a Romantic vision of an alternative present based on a retrofuturist reimagining of the development of industry, while cyberpunk presents people moving through and surviving within a grim and dystopic vision of the future. The former is pure fantasy, whereas the latter, though imminently possible and becoming ever more relevant in these the waning days capitalism in decay, is deeply undesirable.

The world envisioned by solarpunk is imminently achievable, reliant on technological and social developments that are not only well within our reach but that, in many places, are already in use today. And from these building blocks, it presents to us a vision of the world that’s based in the most radical, most revolutionary of all human emotions: Hope.

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Solarpunk is a rejection of the crawling chaos of Silicon Valley’s third-positionist technocracy as well as the liberal and settler-colonialist nature of mainstream environmentalism and the toxic and hopeless nihilism and creeping ecofascism and natioanl-anarchism of primitivism or so-called “post-civ” anarchism. Fictioneers dream of a world where technology is neither abused for profit and excess nor abandoned, but serves human need; where goods and services are produced not in service of profit, but rationally, in service of the needs of our communities; a world where we are no longer alienated, no longer have to live our lives alone, but can exist genuinely as a part of our community, free and equal, a world decolonized and repatriated where we no longer oppress one another on bases of race or gender or ability. And it’s a green new world, a world of social ecology, where we recognize that human beings with all of our constructs and our technology are not stewards of the natural world nor need be its expropriators, but are a part of it, blood and bone, as much as we’re a part of any human community.

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And this can be more than idle speculative fiction. As I said above, solarpunk’s alternative vision of the world is based on futurist speculation of technology that has been developed, of sociopolitical structures that are already extant in miniature. For the movement to become a reality, to become a real force in the world, requires rational implementation. But, sadly, implementation will require a radical change in the economic base.

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Our present mode of production will never allow this future to come into being so long as it stands, ever lumbering ahead under the oppressive weight of its own failure. All of the carbon taxes and Green New Deals the bourgeois state can dream up will not save us, for the rough beast of capitalism, ever-hungry to generate more capital and concentrate that capital into fewer and fewer hands, will ever lurch knowingly towards its own destruction so long as more profit can be squeezed out of our dying planet, so long as the bourgeoisie remain convinced they can weather the storm they are dragging us all into the heart of. It is incumbent upon us, the people, to save ourselves. As the coming crisis deepens, extreme weather ravages the land, populations are displaced, moribund empires shake at their foundations, it is incumbent upon us to learn how to weather the storm.

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And misanthropic nihilism gives us no liberatory solution. The retreat of the bourgeois state as crisis deepens will highten capitalism’s contradictions, will reveal more cracks in the armor, presenting ever more opportunities for us to assert ourselves. The rank defeatism of the post-left will pass these opportunities by, leaving capitalism unchallenged to adapt to the new conditions as it has done so many times in the past; is it not the great failure of Marx, that he failed to anticipate how well and quickly capitalism might adapt? Moreover, the crises of capitalism in decay will cause, are already causing, mass displacements of human life, and the deep misanthropy of primitivism as well as primitivism’s wholly wrong and unscientific Malthusian ideological base provides a ready breeding ground for reaction; primitivism is merely the boneless cousin of national-anarchism and ecofascism.

Our revolutionary watchword is hope, hope based in the knowledge that we have to tools to save ourselves at our fingertips. We must dare to invent the future. Our job is first to dare to imagine a future that’s worth fighting for, and to then fight for it. The path forward, the road out of the darkness and into this new world, is simple enough to say: Organize.

This isn’t going to be an easy journey, not by any means. We are in for the fight of our lives. The place where decaying capitalism is leading us is not a good place. We will have to walk through wire and fire to make it through this, and we’re gonna bury friends along the way. But we will make it.

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We can make it through together. All we have to do is organize, and we can fight, and when we fight, we win.

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousandfold
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong

The best time for neighbors and co-workers to become friends, for friends to become better friends, for communities to come together, was yesterday. The second-best time is today. Soon, nothing else will matter.

But that’s not a message of despair. It’s a message of hope. Because when we fight, we win.

And we will win.  And someday the fight will be over.  And someday a new generation of babies will be born, and they’ll grow up knowing nothing but freedom.

Somewhere outside right now is a sapling growing up through a crack in the pavement. Someday it will be a tree, towering over the street, its branches kissing the balconies of the buildings nearby, with the pavement that once tried to restrain it shattered and thrown up in slabs to either side, crumbling in its shade.

But for now, it’s just a little sapling, just an acorn that happened to roll into a little crack, just a little bit of green barely visible in the smoke and smog. But every day, our little sapling gets just a bit taller, and the crack just a bit wider.

It knows hope, and it’s not afraid to dream.

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We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall. We will know how to accommodate ourselves for a while. For you must not forget that we can also build. It is we who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place, and better ones. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie may blast and ruin their own world before they leave the stage of history. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”

–Durruti

LINKS:

Get organized, get involved!

Socialist Alternative
Committee For A Workers’ International
Industrial Workers of the World
IWW General Defense Committee
Food Not Bombs
Food Not Lawns

More about solarpunk

Solarpunk: A reference guide 
What Is Solarpunk?
Sunbeam City wiki
Appropedia: Solarpunk
On The Political Dimensions of Solarpunk

The ideological base

Karl Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital (text) (audio)
Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (text) (audio)
Lenin, What Is To Be Done?
Trotsky, The ABCs of Materialist Dialectics
Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread (text) (audio)
Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor In Evolution (text) (audio)
Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom

How to invent the future

Guides to DIY hydroponic gardening
Guides to DIY homesteading and backyard gardening basics
Indoor herb gardening (x) (x) (x)
Lifehacker
Instructables
Rebel Steps podcast
How to organize a tenants’ union (x) (x)
How to form an affinity group
How do we fight gentrification?

Making Stuff and Doing Things: DIY Guides To Just About Everything

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